The low-pressure warning lights up on my dashboard, followed by a thump, thump; never a good sign when you’re in rush-hour traffic on the highway. My only option: pull off into the slender emergency lane hugging a long row of guardrails. With every passing car and truck, my little Forester shook and swayed like a matchbox figurine. My mind went to the worst-case scenario: I’m going to die in the breakdown lane. A flat tire had sidelined me on my morning commute. After turning on my four-way flashers, I panic-dialed 911. An unfamiliar, shaky voice blurted out: “I’m on interstate 89 with a flat tire and I’m scared. Could you please send the State police to put out some flares...people are driving extremely fast.”
Expressing to the dispatcher, a stranger, “I’m scared” felt completely foreign. I abhor feeling dependent, reliant, or needy, full stop. As a mom, sister, daughter, wife, and business owner, my attempt to be an example of strength is immersed in my identity. After all, I share with women that physical strength is essential for health. I taught my daughters to be strong and independent, and less of a damsel in distress. I raised them with the “superman’s not coming” mindset; like I’d grown up thinking. I’d always preferred the deep sense of security that you can only get from being genuinely self-reliant. After this brief vulnerability reflection, I got back to problem solving.
A call to a local tow service confirmed a $150 minimum charge. Hmm, that’s like two new pairs of running shoes; no way. I know what you’re thinking; don’t you have AAA, like other responsible adults? You’ve heard of Murphy right? As in Murphy’s law...after being a card holder for eleven years, I gave it up this past summer. I mean really, I hadn’t gone anywhere due to COVID, so I thought what the heck. Note-to-self: you do have a daily commute, silly me.
Option two, call my husband at work. At the risk of appearing meek, I called, he answered, and was on his way. In the meantime beautiful, bright, blue lights on a green cruiser, (normally a nerve-racking event), pulled up behind me. Cars and trucks slightly slowed, and I got to work changing the flat. To be clear, the state trooper wasn’t getting out of his car. It was me, all me. Here goes: Jack the car, remove lug nuts (wearing black pants today – priceless), donut at the ready. Navigating the narrow space between the guardrails and tire was tricky business. I’ve never been so thankful for: agility, flexibility, and strength; thank you socket wrench and Pilates. All was going well until the jack collapsed. At this point my husband and a coworker pulled up asking what I was doing? “I’m changing the tire”, black, greasy hands proved my efforts. They took over, thankfully.
Later that evening, my husband detailed countless dangers, I narrowly escaped; including getting injured when the car collapsed on the tire (I may or may not have forgotten to set the emergency break). For a moment I felt anxious, and scared again at the thought of what could have been. Then I took a deep breath and reframed my thoughts. I’m both strong and weak, connected and untethered, lost and found, each and every day. I’m blessed to fumble my way through this thing called life in a cozy VT community. And on this morning’s commute, I was thankful for not just one superman showing up, but three.
Becky Widschwenter- Mindful Movement with Becky