• Laura Madden

Blow Out


A tire blew out yesterday on my car as I was driving on a busy road on my way out of the city. I was just 7 miles into my 160-mile trip to visit a friend.

I do not drive my car much, so I was aware that care and maintenance had not been a priority for me. I brushed it aside as a task that could be managed later. Registration renewal was due; I anticipated vehicle inspection and some repair. Routine annual car stuff. So when the idea came up for this weekend trip, it was a flag, but not a barrier. I had not seen my friend since June of last year. I love to drive on the open road.

As I was weaving my way out of the city, I felt frustration rise as I found myself stuck at every traffic light, and behind every slow weekend driver not sure of which direction to take -- quick turns, annoying “let me in” blinkers, parked cars blocking the lane. I began to notice store after store lining the road calling out for us to stop for that perfect item to represent good fortune and abundance. I was anxious to get outside of the congestion, away from all of this, so I could “open up” to my freedom.

Just as I saw my opening, and began to accelerate, I felt the “pop” of my exploding tire. My speed was moderate, I had space, so I was able to find control and steer off the road to a safe spot. I called Triple A, smiled at how nice they were, took a deep breath, and thanked the guardian angels who were on duty this day.

Back to the present – pay attention to now, find safety and assess how to move forward.

What happened? It is not the car; it is not the maintenance neglect alone. Yes, it is a failure to look at how I got to this broken spot, and objectively consider what steps to take to be safe and reach the destination of my dreams. But I don’t want to obsess too much on all of that.

We can accept this “knowing” as important to ground the journey, but it is also a symptom of our imprisonment. We allow old system models to hold us back rather than propel us forward. The continuous search, the diversions, self-analysis, the need to collect symbols of achievement and membership are often designed to trap us in risk averse patterns. They can actually obstruct and delay our creative emergence. Breathe, pay attention, feel safe, move forward.

Must ducks be in a row before they march? Can we emerge within such uncertainty?

As I write these words, the cat that appeared at my door and demanded to be let in jumped onto the desk and sat directly in front of me, leaning his head in to press against my forehead in a kind of assurance that this was good. Animals, and children, are here on earth to remind us of our responsibility to care for what matters – what is present, NOW, living things. It is a reminder that truth in our existence – and co-existence – demands our attention.

These words, these openings of passion, and compassion, hopes and dreams left unattended, like my car, will rise up and stop me in my tracks if I do not properly care for them. But, also, ironically, the blow out that stops my trip propels my journey. Breathe, pay attention, move forward.

“I’ll rise up; I’ll rise like the day; I’ll rise up; I’ll rise unafraid; I’ll rise up, and I’ll do it a thousand times again.”*


*From “Rise Up” Lyrics, Andra Day


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