$800 Car Wash

I’m sitting on my couch, just marveling that I have the free time and mental space to write this blog post.  I got into my first (and hopefully, last!) car accident 2 weeks ago today and the last 14 days has been an endless game of phone tag with insurance agents, auto shops, and claims adjusters.

I am relieved and grateful to say that as of 4:30 PM today, we have a Ford Focus back in our lives sans all the dirt that clung to the windows and floor mats.  Since the old car was declared a total loss and we replaced it with its nearly-identical Ford Focus twin, we basically just got the world’s most expensive and longest car wash.  Nothing has changed except the musty “I moved across the country in this” smell has been replaced with that slightly antiseptic “new car” stench.

Very long story short, I lost a little bit of my naive faith in humanity—I had assumed that the at-fault driver would tell the truth—but gained it all back (and then some) due to the generosity of our friends, family, and co-workers as they helped get us where we needed to go during the last long two weeks.

Now that the massive car headache is finally subsiding, I can focus on more important things like Phase 2 of Mission: Minimalism. Coming soon to a blog near you.


The Right Now

Right now, its so quiet. The house is still and dark because no one else is stupid enough to be up right now. But I love the right now.  Its so peaceful. The lists and lists of things that must be done have been set aside because, really, 1:48 is not a time of night to be doing anything productive effectively. What I can do right now is write. Freed from pesty to-dos, freed from the pleasantries and the pains of the day, this is my time.

Sometimes I have something I want to say but not enough courage to make it known. This particular post was originally titled “Vulnerable” and it was started on March 9th but never continued. There are some things which I write about with ease. This is not one of them.

I read somewhere that great epic poems do not start at the beginning or the end, but in the middle. So in the style of the classics, here we go.

I developed a very odd habit around the age of 8. Whenever there was a prevailing emotion, mood, or aura around me, I would immediately assume the opposite. If there was great pessimism, I would see the sun shining through. If there was great impatience and anxiety, all the peace and tranquility in the world would flow through me. If there was anger and hatred and misunderstanding, I would suddenly be filled with empathy and love. See, this only applied to the negative emotions around me. Thankfully, if there was happiness and kindness and puppies and rainbows, I wouldn’t automatically turn into a rain cloud.

This habit is both helpful and destructive. It allows me to stay calm when others are panicking and it allows me to think rationally when logic is nowhere to be found. What it keeps me from doing is being vulnerable. There are those moments when everyone else is falling apart and yet I can’t help but be stoic and strong. In those moments, there is nothing I want more than to join in and cry and show that I can fall apart too, but I can’t. My eyes remain dry while my heart breaks on the inside.

So its not that I can’t be vulnerable because I am bent on maintaining an image of strength and resilience but that I’ve trained myself to balance out the sentiments in a given area. This also can make me infuriating to some when in argument and my calmness is be mistaken for arrogance.  I can drive people crazy when positivity is the last thing someone wants to hear. So I’m learning there are times to look on the bright side and to remain logical but there are also times when I need to simply agree with the person that yes, sometimes life sucks and when I need to skip the rationality and just admit I was wrong.

What I haven’t yet mastered is how to be vulnerable, let go, and be human. It’s a work in progress, just like this post, just like my life, and just like you.

Fatal Should’s Haves

It’s the should have’s and would have’s that will kill someone. People who know what they should do but find ten excuses that kill their inner conviction. We are too afraid that we will make someone uncomfortable, that we will create an awkward moment. Go ahead. Make it uncomfortable. Make it awkward. When you see someone hurting, your going tos, should haves, and maybe laters aren’t going to help. They can’t read your mind. They don’t know how much you want to help if you never release your thoughts and turn them into notes and words and actions. Because guess what? There might not be a second time. This could be your only chance to change someone’s life. Don’t ever assume that there will be a later for you to muster up your courage and talk to someone. This isn’t about you. This is about waking up and not ignoring the problems around you because you think you might say the wrong thing.

Don’t think someone else is going to take care of it.  Everyone thinks that.  Everyone assumes that somewhere, some kind hearted person will notice that there is a broken human being in front of them and will help them find the pieces and put themselves back together.  Yet if we all believe that someone else will take the responsibility, no one will.

Overreact to the smallest cues. If someone is talking in the past tense about a problem, it probably is very real in the present. If someone is making a joke about a hurt and pasting that smile over their sorrow, the hurt isn’t gone. If someone is becoming more and more outgoing, then they might be withdrawing on the inside. If someone seems to always be happy on the outside, they probably rarely have true joy.

Stop lying to yourself. Saying things like “It doesn’t mean anything” “They would talk to me if they needed help” People won’t. People will hide within themselves before they ever tell you they need you. If you misread a cue and talk to someone about it and you are wrong, that’s okay. They might think you are overly concerned and too analytical but it won’t hurt anyone.  If you don’t speak up when you think someone is hurting, it’s not okay. They needed you. They desperately wanted someone to pick up on their hints and you ignored them for the sake of being comfortable and not rocking the boat. That was all they are going to give you to let you know something was wrong.

Call them out. Confront them.

They are crying. They are screaming. But they won’t ever tell you that. They want you to know something is wrong yet at the same time feel they must keep up the brave face. Tell them its okay not to be happy. Never let something go because you don’t have the time to deal with it. You aren’t just letting someone’s problem go; you are letting a human being slip away forever.