I was reminiscing about a time when my sister and I needed to get a rental car in London to take us to Penzance, 300 miles due west in the county of Cornwall. It is located at the very western tip of the Cornwall Peninsula, and accessible by the M4/5 highways. We were excited to be going to an open air festival bringing artists, musicians, and writers of the highest caliber. So, off we went to the rental car agency.
Neither of us knew how to drive a stick shift, and that day it was the only type of car available. The woman asked the question as to whether, we as Americans, had ever learned to drive on a manual transmission and after winking at each other, we simultaneously answered, “yes, of course.” We figured we could learn how to drive one of “those” cars in a nearby parking lot before venturing on the highway.
In retrospect, it wasn’t a great plan. We never got there! We decided that one of us would shift (me) while the other would steer to make it less stressful on the driver. We kept the car in first gear. What was particularly stressful is that no sooner were we on the A4 than the engine began to overheat, smoke and finally seize up. We should have realized something was amiss, as we couldn’t get the car to go beyond 30 miles an hour and other cars were honking angrily at us as if something was very wrong. Something WAS very wrong. We kept on ignoring the problem as we stubbornly pushed on. Why didn’t we have the sense to at least stop at a gas station for an opinion? It’s all so easy to figure out in retrospect.
This little anecdote leads me to the idea that when we have obstacles in our lives, sometimes the more prudent choice would be to stop and assess the situation, without plowing on using a lot of emotional, mental, and often physical energy. We actually tried pushing the car onto the side of the road to stay out of harm’s way. How about trying to make adjustments along the way when we realized things were not flowing along the lines of our original intention? Why do we have to wait until things, whether literal or figurative, break down, and an easy choice isn’t even an option anymore?!!