Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Downton Abbey, Car Crashes & Blizzards

On Sunday I watched the season 3 ending of Downton Abbey and sat shocked as the Twittersphere roared in grief as new father, Matthew Crawley crashed his car and plummeted to his death on the day of his first and only son's birth.

The next day, on Monday, my daughter and I were also cruising along in our car across the interstate. We were returning from senior preview day at (fill in prestigious name of college here). It is her dream to be able to attend. Our minds were filled with nothing but hope and faith for her future until a snowstorm of blizzard-like proportions came out of the blue. As the largest flakes I've ever seen hammered against the windshield I couldn't help but think of Matthew Crawley's fate and wondered if ours was similar.

I gripped the steering wheel, she pulled radar up on her phone, and my twins sat blissfully unaware in the back seat as they watched a DVD.

Within an hour's time it literally turned from the "best day ever!" to a critical situation.

We determined we had 9 miles until the next, safest exit.
Visibility was down to nothing - not a tenth of a mile - nothing.
Cars set their flashers and crawled along the interstate. Some brave souls passed in the left lane, leaving me praying under my breath as they sped by. We were horrified as we passed semi trucks and cars sitting randomly, cock-eyed in the median and shoulder - evidence of the icy conditions.

Looking up from their movie, the twins asked why we were going so slow. When they noticed it was snowing all they saw was the beauty of the swirling blizzard.  Giddy, they raved about the size of the flakes and were easily mesmerized by the illumination of them in our headlights.

"Quiet!" I shouted, "Are you buckled?"

I saw danger.
They saw beauty.
I imagined tragedy, they dreamt of winter wonderlands.

Granted they're 8
but still ... there's a lesson here, no?

How much of our reactions are based on fear?

Do you take the long way to work because you're afraid of the highway?
Did you buy that expensive (whatever) because you're afraid if you don't you won't look cool?
Are you afraid to shake hands because you might get sick?
Did you not turn in that assignment, paper or essay because you're afraid of how you'll be judged?
Maybe you didn't speak up because you're afraid you're idea will fall on deaf ears.

We must be very careful with any decision we make based on fear.
Fear based decisions can make life more complicated than it needs to be.

While my imaginations got the best of me, and I do admit I pictured us dead in a ditch somewhere, my fears weren't completely unfounded. We were in a treacherous situation. I recognized the danger and formulated the safest plan possible (which is why we spent an hour in a hickville Wal-Mart trying on slippers - where was my reality TV show when I needed it?). 

Fear, you see, can be many things.
It can be helpful or debilitating.
It can be real or imagined.
And it's certainly inevitable.
It's our reactions and choices in the light of fear that we must master. May your life, no matter what highway or snowstorm of life you find yourself in, be a safe journey. Because while the winds of fear may blow, you have within you the ability to choose your reaction to your surrounding.

R.I.P. Matthew Crawley.
I am so thankful we didn't share the same fate.

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