Beleaguered By The Universe?

By James Breckenrdige. Do you ever have ‘those’ days, like I did Tuesday, were you find yourself wondering why the Universe is out to get you?

I arrived at the parking lot of the Best Western (ABC restaurant) on Marshall in a cloud of billowing steam, popped the hood and stood back listening to the hiss of water going from a liquid to a gaseous state and watching as the water vapour climbed into the air.

All things considered insanity may be the only reasonable alternative.

I was coming back from a Mental Health Regional Committee meeting in Surrey and had just passed Mount Lehman when the check engine light came on and the temperature gauge climbed to the top of the ‘normal’ range. The temperature red warning light came on just as I was coming up on Clearbrook. I exited Highway 1 there and quickly turned onto Marshall and the Best Western parking lot, arriving in a cloud of steam and a “Hi Ho Silver.”

Recognizing definitive evidence that something in my car’s cooling system was Kaput I made a quiet request to the PTBs (powers that be) that it be only a cooling system problem and that it be something minor like the thermostat.

If the Universe is toying with me it is the thermostat;

If the Universe is out to get me it will be something MAJOR.

As I stood there watching the steam escaping my mind began catastrophising the situation. Fortunately before I managed to spiral into out of control negative thinking and panic, my own water circulating system sent me off (quick step) to the ABC Restaurant’s water closet.

The feeling of relief provided by my visit to the lavatory had me walking back to the car in relative calm.

I had just arrived back at the car and asked myself “what now” when an acquaintance pulled into the parking lot, for a meeting at the ABC Restaurant and upon recognizing me pulled into a parking slot beside me.

First the cooling system malfunction, then someone arrives and offers help.

Occurrences like that make me feel like the Mouse to the Universe’s Cat.

It is still an amazing struggle for me, when asked how things are going, to reply truthfully that (in this case) something in my car’s cooling system had gone and my car was non-functional.

It is even harder to admit I could use some help and say yes to an offer of help.

As painful as it was to admit to needing and to accept help, after a few false starts and some hemming and hawing I acknowledge a need for a hand and accepted help in starting to deal with my car problem.

He offered to have the car towed to a garage that MCC deals with and see about arranging a payment schedule for car repairs.

The accountant in me, aware of my current financial state and projected cash flow over the next few months, dug its heels in and insisted we not take on a financial obligation of that nature.

So there I was with my mind faced with ‘what to do’ and threatening to switch to squirrel brain mode (picture one of those little exercise wheels for mice, gerbils etc with a squirrel funning nuts on it) … when my WRAP (wellness recovery action plan) stepped up and handed me the rule to avoid squirrel brain – first things first.

So I said yes to a tow, but to my home rather than the garage and an unknown repair bill and financial obligation.

With the car parked at my place and no pressing need of the car to drive somewhere for a few days there was no need to panic, just a need to reach out and ask for help in determining what is wrong with the cooling system and what I need do to get it repaired.

Well, there was one matter the lack of the car had me needing to deal with, but an offer of coffee from a friend not only got me out of the house, but thoughtfully choosing the location and route to coffee allowed me to return the library DVD on time so that the person with the hold on the DVD could get it in a timely fashion.

Coffee not only relieved worry about returning the library material on time but took my focus off the car and put a smile on my face. We went to McDonalds and I noticed John was interested in the hockey game so I chose to sit where he could easily watch the game on the TV’s.

Watching John struggle to hold a conversation as his attention was drawn to the TV screen put a smile on my face – and a shamrock (yum!) shake over my taste buds.

Getting home I began to commit my tale to paper so as to share the tale and take a first step in finding someone with automotive knowledge and skill to look at the car and tell me what is wrong and what needs to be done to get the car running ASAP in the most cost efficient way (least cost to me).

The tale also serves as an opportunity to comment on how precarious life is for those who struggle to make ends meet in a most minimal manner.

With 16 dollars and some odd cents to my name right now, even the best scenario of it only being a thermostat will require the borrowing and repayment of money; provided I can find someone to lend the money required.

I need the car to get to work to pay the rent and remained housed. It is frighteningly easy in the lower mainland to slip into homelessness. Fortunately I do have people who would trust me to repay them.

And I am can write and share this tale in order to find someone who can supply the expertise needed to diagnose and tell me what is needed to repair my car.

But … what about all those others; the others whose numbers the economy and government policies are adding to, who also are facing a crisis of poverty and lack a means to find the aid they need so as not to become homeless?

They are why it is more important than ever that we are willing to make some sacrifices in order to help those who truly need help. Remember that helping does not necessarily require your money, it can be your time, knowledge and expertise to look at a car’s cooling system and say, ‘The problem is … and to fix it requires …’. Or providing a ride to and from the grocery store for a someone (or a family) without a vehicle, saving them the struggle they face in getting groceries.

Let us all commit to trying to do a random act of kindness a day; whether large, small or tiny is not important, it is trying to do that is important … although on the matter of ‘try’ Yoda would say “Do or Do Not, there is no Try.”

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life …

“A fight Between two wolves is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.

“The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

“This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old chief simply replied, “The one you choose to feed.

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