“Sir, Sir!!” the guy waved at me from across the grocery store’s dimly lit parking lot. I cautiously slowed and powered down the window.
“I left the lights on in my car and now it won’t start. I have my elderly Mom with me and just need a jump start. Someone else has offered to jump start it, but their car is too small. I think we need an SUV like yours to get mine started”.
Sure enough, there was a small car with jumper cables connected to his SUV. I’ll admit, I’m a bit skeptical at times like these, but at the same time I’ve been stranded my share of times and had someone appear at just the perfect time.
The guy continued that he didn’t know anything about cars and was totally over his head on things like this. I could tell he was really upset, as can happen in times like this. His elderly Mom was quiet, but capable and effortlessly offered an extra hand or held a flashlight.
We connected my SUV; let it charge for a few minutes and then he cranked his. It would turn over, but not start. Hmmmm…..there was a familiar sound that was missing, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was.
I broke out my heavy jumper cables and tried again. Still the same result. By now, the guy was getting even more upset. “Why do things like this always happen to me!!?” “This is going to be expensive!!!”. Meanwhile, his Mom just watched and allowed whatever to unfold.
I put my gear away and shone the flashlight under the hood. The transverse engine looked like so many engines I’ve seen before. The driver’s side had the air filter, throttle body, and intake hardware. The passenger side had the serpentine belt, A/C, alternator, power steering.
I asked him to start it and still I sensed something was missing. As he started it, the engine turned about ¼ of a turn and then stopped. It was then I realized what I thought the problem was.
Usually when you start a car, no matter what brand, there is a sound of power as the starter turns the engine over. You can almost feel the torque, especially if you have the hood up. Not so here; every crank was a feeble attempt to turn the engine over.
“May I give it a try?” I asked. The guy, leapt out of the driver’s side, glad to be away from it. I had a feeling that if could’ve just run away, he probably would’ve.
As I got in, I just bumped the key slowly, just enough to move the engine. I really wasn’t trying to start it; I was proving a theory with each bump. With each bump, the engine made the usual, anemic sound and didn’t start. However……
Now and then one bump sounded solid and I quietly said “darn, I missed it”. After a few more iterations, I had a rhythm. Every 3-4 bumps would be anemic, but the 4th or 5th one would catch.
This process took a few minutes as I figured out what was happening. Meanwhile outside of the car, the drama was building even more. “I knew we should’ve never come here!” the guy exclaimed. “Can you call someone, does he know what do, and is he awake!!?” He was feeling lost, stranded, and just wanted out of here and it showed. His Mom retained her composure throughout and silently watched me.
I bumped the key a couple of more times and then waited. “C’mon baby, I know we can do this” I said under my breath. I knew I could start this car; I just needed one important piece of nuts and bolts to line up just perfectly one time.
One more turn of the key, confidently, putting it all on the line with this one shot. I had missed a few opportunities earlier, but this time I was going for it. I turned the key all the way and held it………with a solid, familiar sound the SUV roared to life!!
Woohoo!! I had a feeling I could do it, but to actually hear it run was quite rewarding.
The guy hurriedly began throwing everything back into the SUV. At one point, I had a feeling he was going to run me, his Mom, and my SUV over if we all didn’t move. He just wanted out of there!
Meanwhile, Mom asked me what it was. In 30 seconds or less, I explained that the starter had a dead spot and all I did was bump it around till I found the one place it’d catch. Not a fully technical explanation, but enough so she’d understand.
She calmly and graciously said thank you many times as I lowered the hood and prepared to leave. She said they would go home now and I said “you can go anywhere you want, as long as you leave it running”. We both just laughed and I watched them peel out of sight, almost literally.
I sat for a second, amazed at how the mom was so composed and the son was so dramatic. What a dichotomy of emotions and character!
As I rolled away, I couldn’t help but remember the times I was that same person; stranded, alone and someone took the time and courage to get me on my way. I had a renewed sense of gratitude for those times of rescue and said a quiet thank you for being able to lend a hand to get them on their way.
You never know what events will transpire, whom you’ll meet, but somehow it all comes full circle and that’s what makes life interesting.
As you can probably tell, I haven’t written here for a while. I took a solo 3 week road trip covering 6 thousand miles and it was fun and life changing. I ended up camping for two weeks in the mountains without electricity, water or even cell phone service. I was in a campground only 5 miles from a small town so I wasn’t totally isolated but enough to enjoy it.
It took me 4 days of driving to arrive at my destination. As the miles ticked by, the ancillary habits and disruptions began to disappear. I was leaving it all on the side of the road and it was ALOT!! I feel bad for the people mowing the right of ways!
That was just the beginning, much like peeling a peach. Once in the mountains, the rest of the distractions melted away and I was left at the core of who I really was. Who was that anyway? I’ve been running for so long, it was time to take a much-needed break.
Without the disruption of modern conveniences, the mirror kept getting polished and I’d see things that’d make me stop and go really? I do that? Or at times, make me cry as I realized some of the crazy things I’d done.
I realized I was just living on habit and not really conscious of what I really wanted. Here in the fresh mountain air and nothing to do all day long it was pretty easy to look inward.
Course seeing what needs to be changed and then doing it are two different things. I returned home and immediately made changes. For example, I changed my work schedule from 10 hour days back to 8 hour days. I had been going in at 6:45am and leaving at 5:30pm; breakfast was something microwaved and ate at my desk. My entire life revolved around work.
Now I get up, cook (not microwave) a good breakfast and eat at home. I take time to pray, plan my day, and set intentions. I arrive at work relaxed and ready to go. I continued to focus on my health, both physical and mental and began working out again. Not just working out, but doing things I love for exercise.
What a difference in my countenance and attitude with just those two simple changes! I am continually making adjustments to live consciously instead of just via habit. Some days though, I feel the pull to slide back into those old habits. It’s easy to change when you’re isolated in the wilderness, but back at home in the thick of things, it is a lot more effort.
As soon as I returned, a friend took a 3 month vacation into the mountains. Two weeks in, I received a phone call and the hard, annoying person was replaced by a calmness and peace. Ahhh….there’s my friend. They were beginning to experience the cleansing that occurs when you step outside of yourself.
For me going to the mountains was just the ticket. You may prefer the beach or somewhere else. Whatever you enjoy, I’d highly recommend taking some quality time to step outside of yourself without distraction. It’s a great way to get back in touch with who you really are and focus on what you really want to accomplish.
“Stop, I see something”, Laurie yells from the passenger seat. I was preparing to pull onto a 2 lane road outside our neighborhood and hadn’t seen any traffic. I still didn’t see any traffic….
She excitedly points to the right, “there’s an injured bird in the bushes over there!” Sure enough, a few car lengths from the shoulder a big black vulture is limping, dragging a wing, and struggling to get further into the bushes.
Seeing us, it struggles even more and with good reason. Imagine, you’re feasting in the road when suddenly, Wham!! a giant, shiny object runs you over. Reeling from the blow, you gasp for breath and struggle to get as far away as possible. Thankfully, the big shiny object keeps going and you can now peacefully tend your wounds.
But wait, here comes another big shiny object. Now 2 giants come out and head over to you. You thought the day was bad before, it’s looking like it’s about to get worse…. Yeah, I’d run like hell too!
As volunteers at state parks and animal rescue organizations, we’re experienced with rescuing and relocating injured wildlife. From turtles in the middle of the road to birds that have been shot, we’ve seen a little bit of everything.
However, capturing a bird is a much different challenge, because if it is injured but has enough energy to fly away, you won’t be able to catch it and rescue it. By the looks of this guy, he’s not flying anywhere. However, nature is on his side as he slips into the wild, un-groomed area of our neighborhood.
This area is the real Florida….Sunlight creeps its way to the ground passing through vines, thorns, poison ivy, big trees, little trees, and the infamous Saw palmettos. We have to go in to this thick, natural area to retrieve this bird, so we look for potential openings in the undergrowth and begin the task of forcing the bird to an open area. Sounds easy enough, it’s just one bird and there are two of us.
We start tiptoeing in, over, under, around, through; any way possible to get this guy to move out where we can catch him. At one point I’m successfully making my way through the jungle of foliage when a large saw palmetto blocks forward progress.
I look around and can barely see the sun; vines are running in a confused maze above me, and branches have me blocked in. I was so focused on moving forward that I wasn’t thinking about anything else. Now I’m wondering 2 things; how did I get in here and how will I get out?
Two hours later, (yes two hours!) I am covered in sweat, my arms & legs look like I’ve been clawed by a cat, and this bird is still at bay. We were planning a bike ride, so shorts & t-shirt are the attire. Not the best for trekking through “natural Florida” at its worst.
I finally give up and yell “I’m going home!!!………and putting on some pants and boots”. I briefly thought of just driving away and not telling her where I was going, but I decided to behave.
10 minutes later I return, a new man; old thick jeans, hiking boots, and ice cold water. Bring me this bird!! Like Godzilla stomping through Tokyo, I stomp my way through the brush. Path? I don’t need a path. We force the vulture toward an open area and finally corner it between us.
She is on one side and I’m on the other. The only way out is by one of us and we’re ready with towels and eager anticipation. It moves right and we move right, it moves left and we move left.
It moves right again and I move right but….this time it pulls up short and darts left. Oh no, he faked me out!!! I quickly recover but it’s too late.
2 quick steps and it’s out of my reach and then get this; it takes flight!! It lands about a block away. As it looks back, I swear it’s laughing.
I’m hot, sweaty, scratched, hungry, and thirsty. I’m done!! I lean against truck reflecting on the events that just unfolded when she heads to where it landed. “If it was that seriously injured, it would not have been able to fly away” I yell.
5 minutes later, she victoriously parades out with the big bird in both hands. I spit out my water in disbelief. We put it into the carrier and headed off to our local wildlife hospital.
It was treated, brought up to healthy weight, and then released back into the wild. I still laugh about that story and what we went through. Each time I see a vulture flying over, I can’t help but look up and wonder; does it remember the time……..
I’m riding home after work when my phone rings. Hmmm… I don’t recognize that number, I’ll let it go to voicemail.
At home, I cooked dinner, fed the pets, and did my thing and then I remembered that voicemail. I played it back and immediately looked at the clock. As the message went on, I could not believe what I was hearing. My heart sank!!
The message was an opportunity to shoot and produce a video for a live performance. The gentlemen who called has done some great work and this would’ve been an opportunity to sharpen my skills. I could’ve made it if I would’ve checked the message earlier, but now it was too late….
Aside from being angry at myself, I felt like an idiot, to put it mildly. Here was an opportunity to do what I love that could’ve opened other doors and not only didn’t I answer the phone, I didn’t check the messages. What good is technology if I don’t use it?
I know I like to think how events or situations will play out, but often good things come in unexpected ways. So next time the call comes, answer it or at least check the message right away. You never know what opportunity could be awaiting.
Do you know anyone who might want this plant? I asked my friend who was on Skype and knows everything botanical. She wanted to see it, so I went out to the patio, drug it out of the corner and held the laptop in front of it.
It is a frangipani, or what I affectionately call it a stick plant. The shoots stood about 4 feet tall and were just bare sticks; nothing really interesting.
I left it in the middle of the patio so I could just grab it when it was time to take it away. After a week, it appeared to be have green on the ends of the nubs. The person who wanted it was unavailable and I was too lazy to move it back to the shaded corner.
After two weeks, the nubs had turned green and it was obvious this plant was growing. I didn’t call the person who wanted it because now I was curious what was going to happen.
Fast forward to 4 weeks later and this plant is alive!! The previous bare nubs have 3-4 inches (yes I measured!) of new growth and each one has many big green leaves and bright, fragrant flowers have appeared. Needless to say, it’s thriving and I’m keeping it.
So what was the change? I moved it from the shaded, corner of the patio where it just sat in oblivion. Sitting under a tree, there wasn’t much water, little sun, and no attention.
Moving it to the center of the patio, placed in the direct sun and it was fully exposed to soak up the morning dew or afternoon rain. Plus as it started growing, I’d walk over and notice it. Now I wander over and smell the fragrant flowers and amazed at how tall it’s getting.
As I look at changes I’m planning in my life that sometimes seem just short of overwhelming, I look at this plant. It wasn’t a massive change that made it thrive, it was a shift in position. From the shade into the light was all it needed.
Maybe some of these changes to aren’t that difficult after all……maybe I just need to shift more into the light, where I can be exposed to the experiences that help me grow.