Yesterday was Retirement Day Two. I’m still kind of in shock. My schedule has been completely upended. I’m not sure what day it is. I’m not quite sure what to do with myself yet. And it still feels like I’m on vacation.
Except I know I’m not.
I don’t have my company phone, which was always buzzing. That third laptop is missing from my desk. And I don’t have a phone glued to my ear. Yeah. Not exactly on vacation.
I’m trying to keep some things the same. Enough so I recognize my life at least a little. One thing I’ve kept is my weekly Alexander lesson. Oh yeah. That’s not exactly the same either. I went at 1:00 instead of 5:00. And it was on a different day.
Anyway, I was on my way there on the route I take every week. I was on Pleasant Street minding my own business, when all of a sudden a truck comes out of a side street. He didn’t even slow down at the stop sign, never mind stop. It’s as if he didn’t think anything would be coming, so just went. He clearly didn’t see me.
I instinctively jammed on the brakes and swerved to the left to avoid him. He saw me and stopped. Whew! That was close. I kept going, even more slowly than before. And the truck driver followed a good distance behind, probably realizing how close he had come to plowing into me.
Now if you’ve read this blog for very long, you know I had an accident last year that totaled my car. A similar accident. A guy ran the stop sign and plowed into the passenger side. And because he had stolen the car, he abandoned it up the road and escaped without getting caught. So because this was so similar, my mind immediately flashed back to that accident.
And here’s the thing. It was on the same street! Only one side street up from where the previous accident had been.
I got to my lesson, and felt a bit shaken up. After all, I had just barely escaped another accident. I think my observation and quick reaction had helped. But in so doing, I twisted my body, and particularly my neck. So by the time I got to my lesson it was hurting.
We worked on it there, and Elizabeth gave me some advice of what to do when I got home. I drove toward home watching like a hawk.
Have you ever had a situation where something happened, like my accident of last year, and then it happens again? Even if there’s a long time between incidents, your brain connects the two. It feels like a pattern. Now you’re almost expecting the worst to happen. Maybe every time you drive on that street. Or by that side road. Stop at that convenience store. Or start to feel happy.
It’s so easy to gravitate toward the negative, isn’t it? To see the worst. Sure, our brains are trained to look for danger. That doesn’t mean we have to continue to find it everywhere we go.
My body’s been trying to protect itself against some unknown danger for quite a while. That’s one of the big things we’re working on at my Alexander lessons. And this near miss just reinforced that self-protection mode again. I’m going to have to really focus on disarming myself and trusting that true protection comes from somewhere other than tightening my body.
Maybe you’re protecting yourself in a way that isn’t actually protecting yourself either. It’s just giving you pain. Tightness. Physical or emotional. If so, be gentle with yourself. Invite yourself to release – even just a little bit. Don’t look for a trend. You’ll find one every time. Just like I did.
I’m trying to be gentle with myself. I'm trying to not beat myself up over what has been. Accept the fact that I‘ve been doing the best I could. I protected myself the best way I knew how. And now it’s time to change that. Not all at once, but a little at a time.
I just recorded podcast episode 082. On it I talked about Sam Bennett’s book “Get it Done”. The idea that spending 15 minutes a day on your project can make all the difference. The same is true here. A small amount of time spent releasing tension, letting go of your protective armor will eventually add up. I believe that for myself, and I believe it for you.
What have you got to lose? Maybe some pain in your neck. Shoulders. Or back. Maybe the tightness that comes from trying to protect yourself. Wouldn’t you like to be free? I sure would. I don’t want a near miss to cause my neck to spasm. I don’t my protective instinct to chase shadows. I want the freedom that comes from embracing life in all its fullness. Even near misses.
What do you do to protect yourself? Do you have habits that act as protection and really aren’t? What would you like to release in this first week of the new year? Leave a comment and then take your first small step.