I’m one of those crazy people who likes to see JUST how far I can make it on a low gas tank before I have to refuel.
Why do I do it? I have no idea. Because every time that little stick gets further down the “E” my heart races faster and my veins fill up with anxiety - hoping that today isn’t the day that I run out of gas and I have to call my husband to bail me out.
It’s not my best quality. I’m aware.
Last week, I was in the “almost on E” zone in the middle of some beautiful countryside. And instead of being able to take in the scenery, my eyes were glued to my dashboard to see just how much further I could make it.
I had passed a refueling opportunity earlier that morning, but I knew I had JUST enough in my tank to get where I needed to go…why stop now?
Well now I wish I had stopped because I had miscalculated how much more distance I had. With three young kids with me and no sign of there being a gas station anytime soon… I knew I was about to have the stress of breaking down … and it all could have been avoided if I just took the five minutes to stop and refuel.
Regret overcame me. I thought today was the day I was going to lose the little game I play with chance.
Suddenly, I saw a station in the distance and it was like seeing a watering hole when you’re stuck in the middle of the desert. “Thank God,” I thought.
I rolled in on fumes. My sprinting heart began the process of catching its breath. The anxiety excused itself from my veins.
I filled up the tank. I breathed a little easier. I felt a little more relief. And I continued on with a lot less stress and an ability to actually enjoy the ride.
You think I’m talking about my car, don’t you?
Yep. I did too.
Until I realized I had just written a story about daily life in my own body.
I treat it like I do my own car.
I push it (along with my mind and my spirit) as far as it can possibly go until it is close to shutting down—sometimes it does.
And even though there are times in my day where an opportunity presents itself to refill my tank, I ignore it because there are too many other tasks in my day to get done. If I still have even a little bit left, I feel I have to use it.
Instead of having a cup of coffee in silence on my patio to center my mind if I get 15 minutes to myself before the kids wake up, I scramble to put dishes away.
Instead of taking thirty minutes when I have a babysitter to take a run and take care of my body, I bang out work emails.
Instead of taking the hour in between when my kids go to bed and when my head hits the pillow to read a book, I tidy the house.
Continuing to live this way is always going to make me end up on that road in the middle of nowhere with anxiety and stress in my bones. Not being able to take in the scenery because anxiety is present where peacefulness and balance should exist instead.
And just like my car… I WILL shut down if that last drop dries up. But unlike my car, I can’t rely on someone else to do it for me.
It’s time to pay more attention to my personal dash board. To know exactly how many miles I’ve got in me. To start taking advantage of the re-fueling opportunities along the journey before I have to respond to the warning signs. To stop taking chances and recognize that I WILL break down if I push past my limit.
Because there’s too much scenery to take in around me…and I don’t want to miss out on the ride.