Posted by: MC | February 4, 2009

Wake Up Call

Walnut Creek, CA

I’m standing at Mike’s Autobody in Walnut Creek, CA. This wasn’t in the plan. 

Yesterday there was a road that, as roads go, qualifies certainly as beautiful. Highway 97 drops out of Klamath Falls, Oregon and onto the long northern shoulders of Mt. Shasta and the state of California. The blue sky was seamless and the mountain, thus unburdened, revealed every inch of its majesty and power. Shasta is said to have a particular and mysterious vibe to it – a presence to be profoundly respected, listened to, and learned from. Yesterday it stood white in its February robes, still in its endurance, indifferent and benevolent all at once to the collection of beings we know as humanity. 

The road was straight and empty when I pulled out the flip camera to get one more shot — one more taste of the mountain’s splendor. The power clicked on. The tiny screen was ready. I turned it to the mountain and spoke. “One more view of Shasta.” 

Then there was the sound of gravel beneath the tires. There was a pole bent and crashing across the top of the car. No doubt, a few choice words, but more significantly an extreme calm and presence of mind that lent itself to every nerve and muscle that was needed to guide the car back onto the certainly beautiful road. 

“Wake up call,” I thought immediately. I spoke it. “Wake up call.” 

This is driving alone on the highways of America. This is the responsibility and it is the opportunity. To pay good attention – to stay focused – to endure boredom and the excitement of magnificence when it moves by the window without giving way to temptations to multitask. For two days I’d been letting myself variously dig through bags in the back seat, reach too far for a new CD, practice my fledgling skills with text messaging, take photos…. Bad idea. How lucky I am to have had a wake up warning this relatively minor. 

The Mini is a little the worse for wear. Now George, the supremely genuine and knowledgeable appraiser for Mike’s Autobody, is telling me it will take at least 5 working days to repair the windshield – on account of the dent just above in the roof and window lining. 

I’ll wait until Atlanta. 

Before I began this trip, I knew it would change me. That’s the metaphor of the hero’s journey – and any journey is a hero’s journey. At the same time I did not (because I cannot) know how the change would and will look. It was the same thing with the birth of Sara – my now 22-year-old daughter. Being a psychologist and all, I was quite confident in the sophistication of my understanding that having a child changes one’s life. I had no idea! 

It’s all finally art and improv, this movement through a lifetime. 

Yesterday evening, I called my next-door-neighbor, David. We hadn’t had a chance to see one another before I left town. We talked recycling bins, yard needs and identifying characteristics of the people who would be tending my house while I’m gone. Then I told him of the incident on highway 97. I told him of the bruises sustained by my too-cute car. David said, “Sounds like Change to me.” 

Yep. That about sums it up. 

Change and the great good fortune to pay attention – to learn. 

It is all improv. And, in that, there’s a huge range of options for taking responsibility. Attending to wellbeing, as it turns out, only increases opportunity for experience. Duh, huh? If the body isn’t here, the experience isn’t either. 

I’m fine. I’m here. I’m into it. I’ve even got a date for an interview with the receptionist at Mike’s Autobody tomorrow morning. 


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