Ever have one of those times where you obsess over whether or not you took care of something at home? You know, like, “Did I lock the door?” or “Did I remember to shut off the oven?” You’re sure you did; at least it seems like you did. But the further you get from home, the less convinced you become. After awhile, the doubt burrows into you brain and you finally decide, “What the heck, I’ll turn around, go home, and check it out; ‘just to be safe.’” Of course, you were right in the first place. The stove WAS off. The door WAS locked. All was fine. You feel silly, relieved, frustrated, angry with yourself; (choose one or “all of the above”) but continue to your destination; ten minutes late but no longer encumbered by the phantom brain wave.
It doesn’t mean you’re ravaged by OCD if it happens every so often. I think it’s normal (at least I hope so), After all with so much on our minds, sometimes we don’t mentally check off the smaller events. That’s what happened to me yesterday.
The saga began as I mounted my bicycle to ride to yoga. With clear skies and a light breeze, it was weather made for a commute. I had allowed enough time so I could ride at a leisurely pace, admire the scenery, breathe deep the cool air, and be grateful for being alive. All was as it should be; at least until the gremlins got me.
It began with a random thought, “Did you close the garage door?”
Understand, I have never left the garage open when I’ve left my house so there’s no reason to assume I had done anything but that on this occasion. Yet, the more I tried to turn down the noise, the louder it became. With every crank of the pedals, the more I worried. Deciding I was ruining a perfectly good bike ride, I opted to return home and confirm the house was indeed secure.
To turn around, I pulled into a driveway but due to its narrow width, I couldn’t complete the action. I tried to put my feet down while straddling the frame, and waddle backwards to the street. Alas, due to the slope of the driveway, combined with my less-than-towering height, my feet couldn’t reach the ground. The bicycle (with me attached of course) began rolling backwards; before I could extricate myself, I lost balance. Upon realizing gravity was going to win this battle, I stretched out my arms to cushion the blow, landing with a severe THUD next on the curb to a garbage can. My right hand took the brunt of the impact; shortly before my jaw bounced against the concrete and my ribs smashed against the tubular frame of the bike, leaving me in a tangle on the street.
As cars passed, I wondered if anyone would stop, or did they consider a middle-age guy laying in the sewer some sort of performance art or misplaced garbage?
“Look honey, isn’t that a man sprawled in the gutter next to a bicycle?”
“By Jove, I think you’re right!”
“Do you think we should see if he’s okay?”
“Why should we? It looks like the people in that house tried to throw him away, but missed the can. We don’t have time to pick up other people’s trash. However, you’d think they’d have more pride in the appearance of their property, don’t you?”
With a collective “harrumph,” and noses turned skyward, they would drive on. Whether or not that was the conversation, no one stopped.
I assessed the damage. My jaw and hand were already throbbing but I was obviously conscious. I could — with much pain — move my fingers and my mouth. My chest ached; yet I could breathe. The bike was fine; my mirror and light were askew; but simple to fix.
With no small amount of effort, I pulled myself to vertical; considered my options, and came to the thankful realization “on the grand scale of things,” it could have been worse. I was startled at how grateful I actually was, despite the pain.
Therein lies the lesson. Most of the time, “it could be worse” and someday “it will be worse.” But not right NOW — and that’s where I live, right now. I’m no Pollyanna; I understand “stuff happens” (and 24 hours later I am seriously considering a trip to my doctor to check on my hand), yet I was able to continue on with my plans and make it home just fine (albeit more slowly). There are people whose daily experiences are far worse than most of what happens to me in an entire lifetime. When I put it into that perspective, I am grateful. When I dramatically lay my forearm across my forehead, close my eyes, toss back my head, and lament, “woe is me,” it does feel worse.
As a dear friend reminded me, “When everything seems crazy, remember to breathe” (even if my ribs hurt).
Oh yes, I had locked the garage door.