It was so hot and muggy that I hardly slept the night before. Still, I managed to get going to the farmer’s market, a weekly Friday morning shopping delight to get all my fresh produce and the best freshly-caught salmon ever. I parked the car and headed for my favorite vendors. My time was short so I hurried along.
Returning to my car, I put the key in the ignition and it would not start. Nothing unusual. I had been babying it for several weeks—just one of those quirky things one does for an eighteen-year-old car with 253,000 mostly-hassle-free miles. After several minutes my magic touch had not done the trick. Since I could not get the key out of the ignition, I figured my good fortune had run out.
It was Friday before Labor Day. A call to the dealership informed me it would be Tuesday before my trusty mechanic, Victor (yes, since day one) could take a look. A loaner car would be iffy at best on a holiday weekend. Didn’t have much choice. Called the automobile club and a friendly, smiling Jesus drove up soon after immediately offering me a bottle of water when he got out of the tow truck.
I told him I knew the problem. As he hopped in my car, he told me he knew the problem. He pointed to my gearshift in reverse. I was flabbergasted when the car started right up and the key came out of the ignition after he shut off the motor. Naturally.
The relief was immense even though I felt…well you know the feeling. Jesus assured me that people do it “all the time.” He said he had done it a few days earlier which is why he checked it first. I signed the paperwork and we wished each other well.
Of course my gratitude was huge for many reasons—I didn’t have the hassle of dealing with my car on a holiday weekend, a car repair was delayed and I got a bottle of water delivered just when I had run out of my own. There was another reason for my appreciation: This experience was a powerful reminder of an ancient story about pebbles that I wrote about in my book, ThankYouology. The metaphoric message is that if we have lots of pebbles on the ground, we “see” all the pebbles. If we pick up one pebble and put it very close to our eye that is the only pebble we see.
For years I have lived by an acronym I created for the word stop which is: See The Other Possibilities.” When my car did not start, rather than checking beyond jiggling the ignition, I assumed the ignition was why my car was not starting this time. I was fixed on one pebble rather than looking around for other pebbles; or in this case, just turning my eyes away from the steering wheel and checking other possibilities.
When I think about this…I can hear a few “buts” such as that it was obvious what the problem was or why wouldn’t I assume the problem was with the ignition? Well, the outcome did prove the answer was obvious if I had not been so myopic with a hasty assumption.
I believe that if I take life’s hiccups and look for the opportunity, there is always a positive answer. It may not be the one I want to hear, still, I am always grateful when a message is given to me gently rather than the way we may get some in life if we are not paying attention. I do my best to pay attention. This experience definitely got my attention enough for me to look at other situations in my life where I am seeing one pebble instead of many.
My car has given me many lessons throughout our time together. I intend to remember this latest gift for a long time. And if I forget it, I am confident another reminder will come along. It always does.