The past three posts have been about navigating life with tools like centering and grounding and the internal guidance system. In this post, I’m going to bring it down to practical application with a recent example from my own life. It’s one thing to describe the tools and quite another to practice them, particularly at difficult moments. I know this all to well from my own experience. But I might have a few years of practice on some of you, so I’m going to describe how I managed to avoid being a traffic fatality (okay, that may be a bit hyperbolic), or at least managed to get to a speaking engagement with plenty of time to spare and without an accident.
Those who have experience with Colorado weather know that March is our snowiest month and that fifty and sixty degree days are often puntuated by spring storms that rip the nascent leaves from trees and take the branches while they’re at it. Last Thursday was one of those spring storm days.
We have had drought conditions in Denver this winter so any moisture is a welcome sight. The problem was that I had plans, long set, to speak at CIPA College on Thursday. (CIPA College is the annual conference put on by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. It is a major event that draws speakers and participants from the four corners of the U.S.) I was scheduled to head up a panel of editors at “Newbie” College, the half-day session for new and aspiring writers/publishers. I had selected the topics and I had selected the panel. I was responsible for the session.
News of the forthcoming storm on Wednesday had me scrambling to book a room at the hotel for Thursday and Friday. I have had enough experience with Colorado snowstorms to know that having a warm port in a storm is a good idea. I got my gear together. (I’m a woman. This takes time.) I planned to leave relatively early in the morning, even though my panel wasn’t speaking until about 3:00 p.m.
There was rain mixed with snow by 6:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. The streets were still warm enough from the previous day’s sixties to melt anything resembling snow when it hit. But within an hour, the rain-snow mixture was more snow than rain and it was sticking. I hurried to get myself together and my gear in the car and left my home by 8:00 a.m., within an hour of the switch from rain-snow to snow. I could see that conditions were deteriorating rapidly and wanted to find myself drinking coffee and schmoozing with other speakers by 9:00 a.m.
The roads were snowpacked and slick. SUVs were already in ditches. I had some faith in my Subaru Outback and my driving (ah, crawling at about 25 mph), but I had less faith in some of the yahoos speeding by me in cars that didn’t appear to have four-wheel drive like mine. It was already a horrific drive and I was only a few miles from home.
I had heard from one member of my panel and knew she was bailing. I suspected that she wouldn’t be alone. I was prepared to be the sole speaker (and have done enough speaking gigs that I knew I could easily pull it off), but the only thing that was really keeping me pointed onward was the fact that I was the moderator. It was my panel. I felt responsible.
Still, I contemplated turning back. I had only gone five to seven miles (and had another fifteen or so to go), but didn’t want to make the rest of the drive if it was going to be as harrowing as the drive thus far. Before making the decision, I checked in with my internal guidance system.
It was a smart thing to do. I received a very clear message: The road behind you is more dangerous than the road ahead. I couldn’t really imagine that being true, but the message was very clear and kept repeating itself. I decided to go forward.
And the road ahead was, indeed, far less dangerous than the road I had just traveled. (There may be more meaning to this than just one drive to one speaking engagement, I’ll admit.) Within a couple of miles, the roads became more wet than snowpacked and the snow gave way to rain-snow.
I made it to the hotel in time for that morning coffee.
If I had not listened to my internal guidance system, I might have turned back. If I had done that, I would have missed my talk because the roads became increasingly problematic as the day wore on. In fact, I probably would have missed the Friday morning session of CIPA College, too.
As it turned out, I had one panel member with me and we gave a great session. And before the weekend was out, I had won another EVVY Technical Award for Editing and my clients had snagged an additional seven awards for their books.
Am I happy that I listened to my internal guidance system? What do you think?
I would love to hear your personal stories, too.
Copyright 2009 by Melanie Mulhall