It was the perfect breakdown. A main event and series of tiny ones… each resolving in delightful, unexpected ways.
Not too far from Front Royal, Virginia USA the cell signal disappears for a long stretch of two lane roads. I was happily driving to the place I’d rented on the Shenandoah River.
Suddenly, my car lost power.
For miles there had been no shoulder but a wide grassy one appeared as if summoned before I ever knew I needed it. I pulled off coasting to a gentle stop. It was so peaceful. Quiet. Beautiful. To my surprise, I now had a cell signal and was able to reach Dave who searched the internet for a tow and repair service. We went through the names of repair shops in cities I’d never heard of and finally settled on “Steve’s” in someplace called Vaughn.
Have you ever waited for a tow? It can be hours! But in just a few minutes, Steve, a quiet-spoken, thoughtful man, arrived in a pristine tow truck about the size of a fire engine and just as red. He did a quick inspection of my car, put it on the bed and off we went. About all of two to three miles, Vaughn, Virginia, it seems is where my car had broken down and Steve, was… Steve Vaughn.
I sat at a picnic table with a gentle breeze blowing through the trees overhead. Birds sang. The dog snuffled in the grass. My car needed parts that could be delivered the next day. I called every place that had a rental car (or two) in nearby towns but none were available. I wondered how this was going to work out.
“How do you feel about driving a pickup truck?” Steve asked. “I feel just fine about it!” I said.
He handed me the keys to a Ford F-150 pickup truck with some rust over the rear wheels. Inside, there was a blue rag on the floor smudged with grease and a pack of Marlboro cigarettes on the dash. Talk about a ride with character! The dog jumped up on the bench seat sitting tall. I jumped up in the driver’s seat sitting tall too.
I headed to the cabin in Luray on a winding road that traced the Shenandoah. The rental cabin owners were so concerned about all my “troubles” they offered to let me stay Sunday night too at no charge. They couldn’t understand just how trouble-free my day had been. The next morning I woke to cool mountain air and the rushing sound of rapids. I sat drinking coffee and watching geese raft in the river. By my second cup, Steve had called. I headed back to Vaughn for my car.
I had the perfect breakdown. I was fully present to each moment with my destination in mind but without being insistent on how (or even when) I got there. I had expected one experience and received an even better one.
As I look at this quarter and my annual business goals, I’m aware of a choice—where I insist that the path I have in mind and what actually unfolds match. Or, the path of being present to whatever and however it unfolds, with my destination in mind. That’s the one where wide grassy shoulders suddenly appear, where unexpected, generous help arises as if divinely sent, where there are geese honking on a river flowing with Life. For today, I remember I have a choice and I make it.
How about you… How do you remember you too have a choice and which path do you choose?
Here’s to breakdowns… I hope yours are perfect.