By Michael Friedman © 2009
To make the most out of life, you have to be open to the lessons that universe provides you, regardless of the crazy ways in which they come. Whether it is people, a situation or a circumstance that has manifested in order to teach you a how to grow as a person, one has to be open to the messages that these experiences bring. A great example of this occurred to me on my recent trip to Maui.
After taking a 2:30AM flight out of Las Vegas, the wife and I arrived early the next day. Exhausted and hoping for some time to catch my breath, the owners of the bed and breakfast thankfully let us check-in early. After taking a quick nap, we decided to go get dinner and watch our first sunset on the island. Although I had managed to get a little rest, I was still spent and really just wanted to relax, however I caved into my wife's desires as I often do and we headed off for our first sightseeing trip.
After driving 20 minutes, we found a pull-off that offered a beautiful view of the sunset. The only problem was that when I was backing up to turn my car around to face the sunset, I backed over a mound that consisted of macadam, dirt, and rocks. As soon as I went over the mound, my back right tire began to spin and I realized I was stuck. I had managed to get the back tire completely off of the ground as the mound crushed the bottom outside panel of our rented Dodge Charger. We referred to the car as "Battlestar Galactica" because it was so big, so I knew there was no hope of me getting the car free by myself.
I immediately began freaking out. Tired, dazed and somewhat disoriented from the flight, the last thing I wanted was to be stranded on the side of the road on a stretch of highway that had no lights with no clue where we were and almost no cell phone reception. I completely lost my cool and started thinking the worst. My wife had to walk away to let me cool down and regain my composure because I was raging like the Hulk on crack.
After furiously trying to dig us out with my bare hands (which only let to a bunch of cuts) and blaming our situation on the fact that we should have gone back to the bed and breakfast and just skipped stopping, I did my best to calm down. I took out my cell phone and called my rental car company's roadside assistance number. The sun was on the verge of setting and it was starting to get dark. The somewhat incompetent roadside assistance people kept asking me where we were. I became even more flustered because there were no signs posted to help us give a location to tell them where to go. After giving the best possible description of where we were, they told us it would be an hour to an hour-and-a-half before they could get to us.
I was on tilt thanks to the length of time we would have to wait before we got help. I continued to assess the damage to the car, and even though I knew I had insurance to cover the situation, I lost once again lost my composure, thinking the worst. My wife was now laughing and taking pictures of the scene of the crime, and kept telling me to relax and enjoy the sunset because everything would be okay. I felt like strangling her as she just kept repeating her words. My frustration over our situation continued to mount instead of doing what I should have done, which was listen to the wise words of my wife. I kept thinking the worst, refusing to enjoy a single moment of the beautiful sunset.
Twenty minutes passed and I was still frustrated with my predicament, but somewhat humbled after having had my ego crushed by my embarrassment over the situation. I finally relented and tried to take in the remaining moments of the sunset. There was nothing more I could do. A few minutes into appreciating the vivid colors a small, beat-up purple truck purple pulled along-side of my car. Both fear and adrenaline began pumping through my veins. Having lived in cities on the East Coast most of my life, I had heard numerous horror stories about unsuspecting people being robbed on the side of highways by people they thought were going to help them. My heart almost pounded out of my chest when two 300-plus-pound Hawaiians got out of the small truck.
I stood there completely stunned with visions of me having to fight these huge guys if they had decided to rob us. My wife started talking to the defensive tackle-sized gentlemen. Once I finally snapped out of my paranoia, I realized they had stopped to help us. Within a minute, the three of us lifted the back end of the car over the mound and we were free to drive away. Completely shocked at what had happened, I graciously thanked the gentlemen repeatedly and let them know how stupid I felt.
"Here I am, this city kid who prides himself in keeping his cool and I totally screwed up. I don't know what we would have done without you," I said.
"No problem guys. You're on vacation. Have a good time. Mahalo," said the driver of the purple truck as they got back in and drove away.
I watched them drive off and began to rethink everything that had happened and how I reacted. I was brutally honest with myself and quickly admitted that I had handled the situation poorly. Despite being someone who believes in positive outcomes, especially when it comes to relying on oneself, I relented to fear and paranoia and became caught up in negative emotions that proved to be completely unproductive.
Looking back at the situation, I realize that my wife had handled things the right way. Calm, cool and collected, she focused on the positives, never lost her composure and managed to keep me from jumping into the ocean. I learned a lot from her actions and I'm amazed at how easy it is to slip into the negative. In the end, I just needed to calm down, focus my thoughts and trust that things would work out if I took control of the situation.
I've learned a lot of lessons from this experience. The universe once again provided me with a first-hand opportunity to understand both myself and my thought process. The only problem was that it came in the most unexpected way, but I guess that's just the way it is supposed to be. I am now confident that I will handle things differently the next time something like this happens.
Michael Friedman is a writer from Las Vegas, NV.