Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Blind Spot

When I drive, no matter what I am driving, I always strive to prevent having a blind spot.  I adjust my side mirrors to see everything that is directly to the sides of the car.  I move the rearview mirror to see directly behind me and to fill in the gaps in coverage.  I want to feel like I can move from lane to lane with out having to check to see if anyone is there.  I usually do a decent job arranging things so I can.
I do my best to construct my life in the same manner.  I work to keep my sight on everything, keeping my awareness elevated so nothing jumps out and surprises me.  I attempt to keep every project on the front of my mind, preparing myself for each and every possibility.  My brain keeps busy; I am always on my toes.
This week, as I was going about my business on the roads of Houston, I had a couple episodes with a car hiding in my blind spot.  In both instances, I was changing lanes to the right, once merging, once just changing lanes.  Both times, just as I crossed into the lane next to me, I noticed motion in my peripheral vision, alerting me to the presence of another vehicle.  I quickly adjusted back into the original lane, waving an apology to the disturbed driver.  Thankfully, they accepted my apology.
The same thing has happened in my life this week - all on the same day.  While at work on Tuesday, I sent what I thought was a harmless, informative text to one of my co-workers.  I received an extremely unexpected response, seemingly coming out of left field to blind-side me with its irritation, hate, and vitriol.  Later that morning, in another instance, I received a call from Samantha letting me know her car would not start.  She had appointments to keep and I needed to alter my schedule to help her out.  Finally, when I was home later, I was walking around the house, trolling for weeds with Roundup.  I discovered that my sprinkler system was leaking from the house.  None of these instances were planned for - they were all in my blind spot.
Ultimately, the importance of preparing your blind spot is actually quite low on the totem pole.  I appreciate that attempting to plan for each and every eventuality is noble, but I also realistically know I can not prepare for all possibilities.  While I have a medicine cabinet at home, I do not have every medicine for every ailment.  On the more extreme side of things, I do not have a active plan in the event of an asteroid strike on the Earth.  I could spend my time on both of these events, but it could, and should, be spent on better activities.
The more important issue is knowing how I will react to unexpected situations.  Will I be the person that freaks out?  Will I be the person that punches at the punches or rolls with them?  On Tuesday, I had the unfortunate opportunity of being both.
With the car issue, after returning home from work, I called the resident family expert in all things car - my Dad.  His advice was solid and simple: give the battery a good long jump, see if the car will start, and run it up to the local Autozone for a battery test.  I followed each and every step, quickly discovering the easy solution was a battery replacement.  I am glad it wasn’t anything worse.  I rolled with the punches.
For the sprinkler system, I followed the same simple plan.  I diagnosed the problem - a broken seal at the spigot - stopped by the Ace Hardware on the way back from Autozone, picked up the correct part, and fixed the problem.  I rolled with the punches.
I definitely did not roll with the punches when it came to the text message situation.  I reacted calmly to the first response, working to keep everything professional and civil, but the other person chose to elevate the stakes; I let them get under my skin and dictate my mood.  Unfortunately, I said some things I regretted, which were out of my normal behavior - I was punching at the punches.  I allowed myself to be drawn into someone else’s drama.  Regardless of the other person’s behavior, my reaction is the most important part of the equation, after all, it effects me directly.  When it came at me in my blind spot, instead of just sliding out of the way as I did the other two instances, I turned the wheel and slammed into them as hard as I could.
Do I drive this way?  No.  Why should I go about my daily life like this?
You can’t prepare for everything.  Your blind spot will always exist, no matter the extensive precautions you might take.  You know this.  I know this.  The most important thing is to be prepared for your reactions.  Do you roll or punch back?  Really, the choice is yours.  As you travel the road of life, you can choose to reach the finish line as fresh as you started.  Or, you can limp to the end, beaten, battered, and bloody.
I know which I prefer.  Do you? 


  1. Are you sure you don't have a psych degree?!

  2. At one point in my life, I considered it. One of these days I plan on turning all of these ideas into a book. I even have a title, but I can't share it, otherwise it will give it all away!