Are You a Mack Truck Minus the Brakes, Too?
There is more to life than increasing its speed. Mahatma Gandhi
A long, long time ago, a friend likened me to a Mack truck.
“Are you suggesting I’m fat?” I asked.
He laughed. “Not at all. But sometimes you’re like a truck heading downhill with the brakes broken.”
“Well, duh, “I shot back. “I’m a force to be reckoned with.”
Still, who wants to hear they’re barreling toward a crash, even if it’s meant more lovingly than literally? I lost touch (alas) with my pal decades ago, but his words haunt my spirit like a herpes virus. I can’t predict when outbreaks will erupt — Do I come on too strong? Am I obnoxious? Am I doomed? — only that they will. If there’s a cure for my social disease of social unease, I’ve yet to discover it.
Lately, it’s even infected my dreams. Except it’s me-in-a-car, not me-the-truck that’s careening downhill or around a curve. I adjust the seat, stretch my calves, point my toes till they charley horse…I still can’t reach the brakes. The gap between me and the car ahead is closing.
“Dreams are never concerned with trivia,” said Freud. And AuntyFlo, the online dream dictionary, agrees: “If you are a driver in your dream, then it means that you are indulging self-destructive behaviors which have you scrambling to try to regain the control you have lost. You may be indulging in risky behaviors or you may be so overwhelmed by fear and inertia that you no longer have the power to act.”
Self-destructive, risky behaviors? Does failing to put the brakes on carb-binging — even as my A1C plays chicken with diabetes — count?
Perhaps. I suspect, however, that my dreams have more to do with my stalled efforts to publish my first-ever book. Each “no” from an agent/publisher may well bring me one step closer to “yes,” but all I can tell you is that my toilet has never been cleaner; my closets, more organized; my flower beds, less weedy. Tick by relentless tock, the day passes and I squander it channeling Alice from the Brady Bunch, not Allen Ginsberg. (“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”)
I squander it because, if I never really try, I never have to face failing.
When I was in my 20s, time was like a jumbo-sized bag of popcorn. I could inhale handfuls. There was always more. But now? Now, I’m reaching the bottom of the bag and cracking my teeth on kernels of WTF am I DOING as my daddy thunders from heaven his favorite aphorism. “It’s time to shit or get off the pot, sweet pea.”
Sweet peas, it’s an occupational hazard of sprouting. We’re all on an ever-steepening downhill ride, sans brakes, to the compost heap. Bette Davis nailed it: old age indeed ain’t for sissies. It takes guts to stare down decay — whether it involves our synapses or knee caps.
Which, I’ll grant you, sounds kind of bleak. Except, handled properly, it isn’t.
Becoming aware we don’t have forever = becoming aware we’re alive!
“In the light of death, petty concerns fall away and our usual preoccupations become meaningless,” writes Judy Lief, author of ‘Making Friends with Death.’ “It is as though clouds of dust that have covered over something shiny and vivid have been blown away, and we are left with something raw, immediate, and beautiful. We have insight into what matters and what does not.”
What matters is making every second count. Sure, I covet a clean house and gorgeous garden. But I’ll live with a ring in the toilet bowl before I flush my book dreams down it.
HOLD ME TO THIS, PLEASE. I’ve lived for years wondering, What if? What if I’d tried harder, worked longer? I’m damned if I’ll die wondering it, too.
Of course, being me, I risk riding the pendulum to the other extreme. Becoming so caught up in chasing my dreams that, like the White Rabbit, I rush, rush, rush because I’m late, I’m late to a very important date.
Yet who won the race — the tortoise or the hare? Even the energizer bunny’s battery runs out.
In other words, it’s time to slam on the mental brakes and, as Buddhist teacher Thích Nhất Hạnh advises, “live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.”
I hired a life coach (www.lamishaserfwalls.com) to hold my hand as I hunt for an agent. Lamisha’s personal goal for this year is “more, please.”
Ask, and it will be given to you. (Matthew 7:7)
You get in life what you have the courage to ask for. (Oprah)
You create your own universe as you go along. (Winston Churchill)
More, please. Not more time…but more time spent more mindfully. More thoughtfully, more productively. “Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask,” says Jack Canfield. Yet then he adds, “But you have to take action to get it.”
How will I take action? I’ll put more pedal to the metal as a Mad Hatter.
“You’re not the same as you were before,” the MH scolded Alice. “You were much more…muchier.”
I used to be more muchier, too. It’s time to surrender the wheel, move to the passenger seat, and allow my “muchness” to take me wherever it wondrously will.