Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Fork in the Road, Greensboro, NC

I had just cleared the on ramp to the interstate highway and was at full speed to merge to the right as the road forked shortly afterward. A formless gray overcast sky was spitting cold rain drops on my windshield. The SUV ahead of me was scattering a fine mist from its rear wheels onto my car as well. As I was focused on the road ahead a rather large white pickup truck raced past my left side to barely make the merge to the right. As he passed my car and abruptly cut in front of me a small pebble was thrown into the mist and hit my glass windshield in the lower section of the passenger’s side.

A few weeks earlier, I had violated one of my present rules of life to never again purchase a new car. I’m quite alright letting someone else pay the depreciation penalty to drive one off the dealer’s lot. However, as I was bargaining for last year’s model, I had to complement the salesman on his finesse in playing one of the most artful games of “bait and switch” that I had ever personally participated in. And now I was experiencing that first ding in my new automobile.

Fortunately, I had recently finished a book on Zen and the Art of Happiness where the author revealed a similar circumstance. It occurred to me that I had two choices; either burst into an uncontrollable fit of road rage, run the offending pickup off the road, pull the driver outside, rip his heart out and spend the rest of my life in prison or I could apply a lesson I had learned from the book; “A situation only becomes favorable when one adapts to it”. I resolved to respond to the event not as a “bad event” but a “good event” which determined what it became in my life.

I’m no longer anxious or a bit stressed waiting on that first painful ding on my new possession. Now I can go somewhere without parking in the far corner of the mall lot and walking half a mile to pick up a new pair of socks. Now I don’t have to drop back thirty car lengths in heavy traffic to avoid getting my windshield inevitably dinged for the first time. Now I can actually use my new acquisition for its intended purpose with less stress in my life. I followed the author’s advice and wondered “what good could come from this”? We can’t unring a bell and we can’t unding a windshield, but we can always choose to respond positively to keep our life between the ditches.

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