It already seems like it was last year, but a few weeks ago, before the United States started practicing social distancing, I was on the way to visit my sister in Virginia.
I drove into a tunnel.
At its deepest, the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel goes 100 feet under the water.
Because I have a song for every occasion, I was playing “St. Robinson in His Cadillac Dreams” by the Counting Crows, which mentions the Chesapeake Bay — the body of water I was driving under.
And I was scared. I had never driven in a tunnel before.
There were all these signs. Do Not Stop. Do Not Change Lanes. Do Not. Do Not. Do Not.
We were going fast, a quick descent downhill.
But it also felt like a joyride. A bit of a thrill.
At a certain point in life, very little is new. Autopilot takes over. It gets harder to find novel experiences – or easier to avoid them. Things become routine.
Tunnels were new to me, and the speed limit was high. I kept saying I was scared.
When I saw the light that meant the tunnel would end, I felt a little happier, because I knew it would be over soon.
And at the end, once I emerged safely, I thought that maybe it could have gone on longer. I missed the tunnel. Its speed and uncertainty.
Sometimes, I think life is like that. A brief descent into a tunnel, and we’re scared and we can’t stop and we don’t know when the end is coming and only once it’s over do we look back, able to appreciate all the beautiful things about each moment and all the gifts that were ours — even when we didn’t know.
The things we never took the time to appreciate when they were there. Happening. Around us.
I practice what I preach. As a life coach, I have my own life coach. It’s like a mental tuneup that reminds me to stay centered and keeps me able to do my work.
The other day, she had me list what I was grateful for.
I said things like, “My dog,” and “My car… back when I could drive places anyway.”
And she kept saying, “What else? And what else? And what else?”
If you’re feeling frantic, this is an exercise I suggest for you.
Find something you’re grateful for. And ask yourself,
At every moment –
even when it’s scary –
all the way to the end –
there is something to appreciate.
I am wishing you joy.