I looked in the rearview mirror and realized my 7-year-old’s hair was still sticking up in every direction and ran him back into the house to tame it before we took off on the 15-minute drive to drop both of my kids at school.
I looked at the clock: 7:15 a.m. Perfect.
About a mile later, I could tell something was off and pulled over to the side of the road. Horrified, I slowly rounded the back of the car to confirm it. Another flat tire.
The last was on March 22nd. Only six months ago.
That time, I had just pulled into a coffee shop downtown for a client meeting and I tried for an hour to text various friends to come help a sister out to no avail.
By the time I wrapped up the meeting, I had latched on to the zany idea of finally mastering this life skill on my own, despite my female colleagues insisting that I call AAA instead.
It took about an hour and some guidance from a colleague’s husband and a nice stranger, but I did it.
I was dirty, wet (parked next to a rain gutter spout), and had a few new bruises from jumping on and slipping off the tire iron.
But I felt pretty damn great about it.
There’s no sidestepping intimidating obstacles if you truly want to feel fearless.
You must get out there and wrench on those lug nuts yourself, or continue to throw yourself at the mercy of others whenever a flat tire strikes.
My first thought when I saw that flat tire and my kids in the backseat this morning: Noooooo!!!! (Plus a few colorful words)
Then: Who can I call? (No one)
But my resolve was quick to follow, albiet with a bit of hesitation: Alright…let’s do this again. The kids will just have to be late.
And so I moved the emergency kit, lifted up the rear compartment cover, and eyeballed those tools I had been introduced to so recently. And step-by-step, I swapped the flat tire for the spare.
In 15 minutes flat.
And I only got a little smudge of dirt on my peach jeggings. SUV tires are heavy.
And then I dropped my kids at school.
Like a boss.
I was shocked at my own efficiency. Changing a tire truly is easy to do once you’ve done it, but it’s hella difficult the first time.
Such is life.
Which is why trying new things and taking on challenges, especially when you don’t have a clue where to start, result in the most growth and open up unpredictable doors down the road.
These are golden nuggets that must be taken advantage of. And for some of us, they only come around so often. (Or you may be lucky like me and find yourself swimming in an ongoing tide of golden nuggets.)
Sadly, we are programmed from a young age to quietly absorb our lessons from a teacher. To repeat what they’ve done, exactly how they’ve done it.
To this day, my own children are penalized in school if they find their own way to the correct solution.
Our natural problem-solving and inventive capabilities are crushed out of us, and we become followers who stick to what we already know and shrink in the face of the unfamiliar.
Instead of resilient and pliable, we discover that we are rigid, fragile and brittle – breaking in the face of adversity.
That flat tire was so much more than an inconvenience this morning. It was a jubilee.
An opportunity to remind myself in a pretty defining moment that I’ve got this. A triumph far beyond the first tire change six months ago, because this time: it was easy peasy.
The lesson was not lost on me.
I’ve been immersing myself in a lot of new experiences over this past year, and it’s been a bit draining and stressful.
What I really hadn’t considered was that forging those new pathways is the most difficult part.
It’s in the repeating that you get the most delicious reward.
And so I will continue to recklessly drive off road and through construction zones and abandoned parking lots going forward without fear, and watch for the next opportunity to subtract another perceived limitation from my life.