I had an experience with my car 2 days ago. After years of not having one I had decided to splash out and get, if not a newie, a teenager of a car, something that still gleamed inside and out, and most particularly, in the engine room. Getting older and less inclined to long bike rides had something to do with it. Also the opportunity came along to buy a car that was, so I thought, a little gem, and wouldn’t cause the ongoing stress that an older car forever needing repairs provides. Stressful at least for me, with no mechanical know how and not entirely trusting of car mechanics, with the perception one has of their ability to pull the wool, especially over the head of an ignorant female. I had never had a car that was less than a decade old, most being closer to 2 decades. This one had less than 70,000 km’s and was only 5 years old, and a full history of services logged in the log book as per maker’s instructions, and a trustworthy mechanics approval as to not even needing the available “pay for extra warranty” insurance. So I was quietly enthused over the thought of a car but no car worries for a few years at least.
Well, I guess you can see where this is leading… the best laid plans of mice and men gang oft agley, (translation, go oft awry) or to put it more succinctly I am not God. What I is wish not always done. I am not in control . The red lights don’t go green on my say so.
And so it came about, on a Sunday morning early, my car, that little gem, became possessed of an evil spirit that reversed me out of my carport onto the footpath without a by your leave, or an excuse me to anyone walking by. This was with the hand brake on, my foot pushing hysterically down on the brake, in between putting it under the accelerator pedal to pull it up in case it had gotten stuck and the pressing down again the brake as if my life were in danger. Luckily the combination of hand and foot brake keep the movement to a determined walking speed, (better to be run over by a slow car, right?) despite the revs going up into the red, at which point I pushed the gears into the park, the car blessedly stopped rolling, and the revs roared on up, bringing the neighbors out to stare, before I switched off the engine. Two more times I switched on the engine, staying in park to see what would happen and two more times I filled the neighborhood with the sound of horns hooning, before I gave up and, in tears, pulled out my mobile phone.
So, not the way I had planned my life and relationship with my new car: the trips to the swimming pool, long drives to natural areas for peaceful walks, fun filled shopping expeditions (the veggies, the fruit, the toilet paper, books), the congenial task of taking friends to meditation evenings, the deliveries of useful things like cow dung for the garden or dahl for pot lucks… my car and I were going to be such friendly partners. But no, instead I now inhabit a twilight zone, one I have dreamt of, nightmared of, since before I could drive, being in a car that will not be controlled, unable to stop it as it rolls, speeds, leaps, tears through the streets. I speak lightly, but my imagination can picture some very bad stuff happening here: a car that accelerates on its own, running into and over anyone, a mother with a pram, a school kid on skate board, an old man with a stick; or alternatively, pulls me out in front of an oncoming truck, is indeed very bad stuff.
However, I do tend to catastrophize. Several years ago Toyota recalled millions of vehicles due to issues with unintended acceleration, and of those millions that had been on the road, fewer than 40 deaths were alleged to have been caused by this, and even of those many were likely caused by driver error, as it was difficult to pin down and prove any faults in the car systems. Intermittent problems are notoriously difficult to pin point (and fix).
So, in all probability nothing major will come of my misadventure. Perhaps I won’t sell it back to my friend who said I could, if I wished, do that. Probably the mechanic will find no problem. Probably I will get the accelerator cable replaced just in case. Probably, possibly, hopefully, it will never happen again. Probably if it happens again I will remember the drill I have now learned “Foot firmly on brake, do not pump. Gears into neutral. Steer calmly to a safe stopping position. Ignore the fact that the car revs into the red. Do not turn the engine off until you have stopped.”
But as well as those practical learnings , I have been reminded of what I have previously heard, in my time hearing bonafide teachings from some great yogis. We also learn from great spiritual personalities like Jagad Guru that we all living beings or human beings – none of us are the Supreme Controller. In fact we have very limited control of anything. Better than fighting this fact, is the wisdom to accept those things I cannot change. And yes, also the courage to change those things I can. I lay in bed all the next day, lacking the courage to do anything. That is not really a very useful response! Fortunately I was able, some of that time, to seek shelter of the One who is the actual Controller.
And this is another thing this incident reminds me of, another thing I have learnt by hearing from those yogis, and then, due to following their advice, in my own experience. We should always take shelter of the Supreme Controller, who is also the Supreme Protector, whether we think things are good, or whether we think they are bad.
But when things are bad, if we take shelter of the real protector, usually we do so more wholeheartedly than when things appear to be going well. And at that time we can taste something of the shelter to be found there, relaxed, knowing I am not in control, but someone is. Despite how it might seem, all will work out as it should.