Or how darting across two lanes of traffic before stopping halfway between a lane on I-95 – my lane – and the off-ramp to the Walt Whitman could seem like a good idea.
Before I could decide whether I’d slam into the coupe or another car would rear end me – or both – a tractor trailer honked, swerved and passed me with such force that I felt the whoosh rather than hearing it, which made me think it must have sucked the paint right off the driver’s door of my eight-year-old Forester.
Oddly, I didn’t swear or scream. Instead, I heard the words “thank you, Jesus,” tumble from my lips over and over, right before I started to cry. For all of about ten seconds.
As I drove away – without ever coming to a full stop – my body started doing this yoga breathing thing – long, slow inhalations followed by sharp, percussive exhalations – and my brain started its trick of making weird connections between things that don’t normally go together, like, say, near death experiences, coaching and the lottery.
That truck was from Bethlehem, so, wow, it’s like baby Jesus really was looking out for me.
Would my being flattened on 95 on the way to rehearsal have counted as an excused absence?
What if they never found my Power Ball tickets in the wreckage – and one was a winner?
I noticed that I was shaking head and shoulders a little bit, the way the bunny does after I pick her up and it looks like she’s trying to shake off the “hoomin” from her fur.
Within minutes, I was fine. Truly. Fine.
OK, so I woke up later that night screaming in pain from a pulled left calf muscle and I probably won’t drive on the highway with a 16-ounce Wawa coffee in my fist any time soon, but there truly hasn’t been any other fallout.
It could have been so much worse.
Except it wasn’t.
I didn’t let my emotions or physical reactions fuel twisty, false stories about what might have happened.
I trusted my body’s need to breathe and move, reframed untrue painful thoughts and leveraged my strengths of being (gratitude, curiosity, spiritually), in a way that let me process, in about ten minutes, something that once could have derailed me for years.
I could have made it so much worse.
Two years B.C. (Before Coaching), I got tossed off a sailboat during a race. Well, not really off: I dangled from the side by one hand for what seemed like an eternity (probably the same number of seconds as the near-miss on the highway), knowing with all my being that I’d get safely back on that boat.
Which I did, bringing a boatload of shame along for the ride, shame that I went overboard, that I couldn’t get back on without help and that other people saw it happen.
I let that shame mess with my head and my health for years, until it almost derailed me.
Six years into my journey as a coach, my response to real, life-threatening danger couldn’t be more different.
Oh, yeah, I deal with less dramatic stress and strain a whole lot better, too.
That presence, that ability to experience, process, let go and move forward that I tapped into on the highway that night?
That’s why I do what I do.
That’s why I coach.
To keep cultivating that kind of well-being, resilience and freedom in myself and to help others do to the same.
I’m hear to tell you, that’s worth way more than winning 1.5 billion bucks in the lottery.
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Image: Pixabay; used with permission