Driving home this past weekend I started thinking about life’s best and worst moments. There are those spectacular moments like, say, exchanging vows with my husband. Or even quiet ones. Like contemplating a tulip tree in the Foster Botanical Gardens. These are forever committed to my memory. But the moments that stood out most in my mind Saturday were ones that led to expansive personal change (and, dare I say, even spiritual growth). In all, I’ve had three of those moments.
Their shared common denominator (other than me)? These moments all include four wheels and an engine.
I blame last week’s unexpected car repair (ignition!) for my philosophical wanderings. Two came during exceptionally difficult times in my life, and I couldn’t help but recall Tom Petty’s song, Walls. Because, some days are diamonds… and, well, some days just plain suck. Or do they?
ROCK 1: Driving a car older than my then-editor, my 1980 ever-reliable Toyota Corolla gave up the ghost. It seemed luck was on my side when I rolled it into a church parking lot within walking distance from my home, because, of course, I forgot to bring my cell. En route back to the car, the beloved Pitbull refused to NOT follow me. His cable and leash were nowhere to be found, so I improvised with rope. Which didn’t work. Half way back the dog went off and I wound up skidding hands down on gravel and falling into the bramble-lined ditch with him.
The lowest point in my life? Laying in a ditch, bloody and crying with a Pitbull on a rope.
He apologized, licking away my tears. Good dog. The awful, hitting-bottom moment contained a lot of clarity.
ROCK 2: After replacing the timing belt, water pump, and winter-proofing the current car, my husband and I drove home in an Oregon-style monsoon. If you live anywhere in the Pacific Northwest you know exactly what I mean. A December night where the sun sets early, the storm is relentless, and sheets of rain gust across the road. Seeing twenty feet in front of the car was difficult. Envisioning my future after the mechanic forgot to hook up the generator to the motor and helplessly watching the car die in rush hour traffic? Tragic.
Without getting into details, the result wound up being the one and only time, in 12 years, that I’ve seriously considered leaving my marriage. Bottom line: still married, relationship stronger.
DIAMOND: South of France, driving a tractor through a vineyard . Epiphanal moments strike at the oddest moments, or maybe it was the exhaust fumes from the tractor, but in that moment I was simply OVERCOME with a feeling of calm, of my heart filling with gratitude, and the bone-deep, soul-swelling knowledge that everything was going to be okay. Sitting atop the tractor with Bob, I tossed my camera to a friend and asked for a photo. A memento of the moment when I knew for sure, that no matter what, from that second on, life would turn out well and obstacles and challenges would be overcome.
Rocks happen. For a reason. So do diamonds. I’d like to think that we carry the diamonds in our hearts and that we can rely on their strength to carry us forward through rocky times.