How often have you found yourself duking it out with things in your life that are out of your control? You know, spinning in various “what if” scenarios, creating nightmares for yourself over something that may or may not ever happen. The other night I found myself in such a situation driving with my friend, Penny, in a snow storm. We were making the hour-long trip to Connecticut after spending the afternoon in New York City. Part of our plan was to have a nice quiet dinner in Manhattan, but when it started snowing and the streets turned into a slippery mess, we decided to head home.
Getting out of the city was the first challenge we faced. Two of the main streets that would have taken us from the east to the west side were in explicably closed, and the main entrance to the highway had been changed since the last time I accessed it. Suffice it to say, what should have taken twenty minutes took an hour. Inching our way along on the West Side Highway, we decided to shoot for I-95 heading into New England, believing that it would be well-lit and fingers crossed, plowed. No sooner had we taken that exit however, when we found ourselves at a dead stop in three lanes of traffic. And there we sat. With every “thwomp” of the frozen windshield wipers my morale sank lower and lower. It wasn’t long before I started throwing out ridiculous questions that neither one of us knew the answers to: How long could this last? What if it’s hours, all night even? Why wasn’t someone doing something? I had visions of abandoning the car and trekking through snow back into the city in search of a hotel, though I knew that would be impossible since there wasn’t a cab in sight.
“It’s probably an accident,” said Penny.
I flicked on the radio scanning for a traffic update. At last, a chipper voice came on and announced that there was indeed, a huge line of cars stuck along the West Side Highway. “That’s the most worthless piece of information I’ve ever heard,” I said, frustrated. “We’re sitting here, we already know that!”
“What are you looking to hear?” Penny glanced at me.
“Information! You know, something about what happened, like, is there an accident? Are they clearing it? How long will it take? Some hope … I want some HOPE!”
“They’re probably clearing the road as we’re sitting here. Just imagine the tow trucks are there loading the cars …” Pen began pulling protein bars out of her purse. “Here,” she said, “have a little faith, have a Kashi bar!”
“How can I imagine anything in this situation? There’s nothing, not even a glimmer!” I grabbed the bar, grateful for the snack since my stomach was growling big-time. There would be no restaurants open when we got to Connecticut, if we got there at all. “How can you be so calm?” I was incredulous that Penny could sit there with the window cracked, a vast selection of protein bars in her lap, so relaxed that I was surprised she didn’t have her feet up on the dashboard too.
“You can’t do anything about it,” she said, leaning back. “We’re hanging out together, so who cares. Let’s enjoy the moment and let the future take care of itself. At least we weren’t the ones in the accident.” No sooner had she spoken the words when the car ahead of me nudged forward and we began to move.
I breathed a sign of relief, wondering if my friend possessed some magical powers. Slowly, slowly we made out way onto the interstate with no signs of an accident anywhere, chocking it up to another one of the mysteries of New York traffic. We drove thirty miles an hour all the way to Connecticut and arrived home tired, but safe. It had been a four hour ordeal.
“See,” Pen smiled and waved goodnight. “We made it. Life is full of storms … enjoy the rain, watch for the rainbows.”
Sometimes it takes a friend to help us live in the moment.