Good day, team.
I fully intended to send out a challenge this week about the subject of decision-making. However, my weekend was seriously disrupted by the theft of my car. It was parked in front of my house and someone stole it last night. When I went out this morning to drive it away, there was nothing but a big empty space.
This week’s challenge is about dealing with loss, which seems more appropriate given my recent experience. I’ll save the challenge about decision- making for another time.
When I saw that my car was gone, I immediately wondered if I’d actually parked it in front of the house. I thought back to last evening and realized that before I went to bed, I’d looked out the window and seen it parked there. Fear began to course through me. I was asleep while they stole my property, defenseless in my naïve slumber. I felt the intrusion – someone had invaded my personal space.
I began to think, “What had I left in the car?” Nothing that couldn’t be replaced, but it made me angry to think that they’d gotten my horse supplies, my favorite lap blanket, the new panama hat my husband just gave me for our anniversary, and the $10.00 in quarters I stashed in the special change compartment. How many CD’s were in the glove box? What else had I left in the car? It was disturbing to think about some thief rifling through my auto paperwork, reading my registration and the receipt for last winter’s snow tires, or using my lip-gloss. That all seemed much too personal to share with someone who didn’t give a hoot about me and wasn’t afraid to steal my car.
I thought about who would do such a thing? I imagined nasty looking guys who were part of a car theft ring, targeting my car on the street, and towing it away without any regard to the damage they would inflict upon it. Why did they have to steal my car? Why do they have to steal anything at all? What kind of life does someone have that they have to steal someone’s car? I realized that this kind of thinking wasn’t going to help and maybe I could think about this loss differently.
I have seen many times that with loss there is also a gain. This is often hard to see when the sting of the loss is happening. But, over time, the gain becomes more apparent.
After the initial shock of losing my car started to wear off, I realized that cars belong to the category of stuff. Losing stuff is minor compared to losing animals and people. It’s inconvenient and irritating to have to deal with insurance adjusters and police and the lack of transportation for a few days, but it’s a minor pain compared to the tragedy of losing a loved one.
I began to think of what I might gain from this loss. Losing stuff makes room for something new to come in. When I looked at my calendar for this coming week, I realized that I could walk or take public transportation to anywhere I needed to be. I could ride my bike like many of my close friends in Portland do. The weather is perfect for walking and bike riding and both would be good exercise.
Maybe I would need to get another car. Although I enjoyed having an SUV for the first time, I always felt this car was too expensive and I didn’t need that much room. Frankly, a very good salesman talked me into purchasing the car and I always felt like I paid way too much for it. Perhaps this would give me an opportunity to make a better deal and get something that’s in a better price range.
Mostly, I realized that in the world of loss, this is a minor mishap. When my good friend lost her dog recently, I thought of how hard that loss can be. He was her close companion for many years and she had basked in his unconditional love. Living without that love is a loss that is hard to endure. And yet, my friend is so grateful for the time she had with him. That gratitude has taken some of the sting out of the pain of her loss and left her with wonderful memories of her faithful companion. I wonder what the gains will be from her loss. Perhaps she’ll have more freedom to go places without having to worry about who will take care of her dog. Maybe, sometime in the future, there will be another dog that will come into her life.
Today, I remembered the story of the Buddhist monk who saw the gain in his loss. He was in town helping to feed the poor when his little hut on the hill caught fire. As much as the townspeople rushed to try to put the fire out, the hut burned to the ground. As the monk approached the smoldering embers and piles of ash that had been his home, the townspeople moaned over his loss. “We are so sorry,” they exclaimed, “we tried to put the fire out but the wind was too strong.” The monk looked upon his neighbors with affection and gratitude. Then, he looked up at the evening sky. “Well,” he observed, “now I have a much better view of the moon.”
This week, if you lose something, try finding the gain. Sometimes just knowing that there is almost always a gain makes dealing with the pain of the loss a little bit easier to bear.
Have a good week!
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