It’s funny how memories come back to you when you’re the one in the driver’s seat.
Last night I thought about the first time I saw snow. It was in Chile when my brother and I visited our aunt in Santiago. It was summer for us in Jamaica, but it was winter in the Southern Hemisphere and my aunt drove us up into the mountains to a ski resort. We were freezing but I remember our glee at seeing the piles of what looked like bright, white, fluffy cotton candy.
There’s something else I remember about that day – how nervous my aunt was driving up that winding mountain road in the snow. In fact, she stopped the car at one point to breathe and said she didn’t think she could continue. My brother was crestfallen, and I think it was sheer willpower that made her keep going…all the way to the top.
Years ago, I told my Canadian friend Heather that I would never move to Canada, because I could not see myself navigating the snow and cold. Famous last words.
When I moved here last year, Heather patiently stood in line with me to get my Canadian drivers’ licence and told me to make sure I booked a snow driving lesson. I’m infinitely glad I did, because last night was my turn to step into my aunt’s shoes and learn two important lessons.
Here’s how it unfolded.
Yesterday evening I spent a few hours away from home. I was indoors (observing strict Covid protocols), mostly on my own and I even got some writing done. By the time I rose to leave it was after 9:00pm. I gasped in horror when I opened the door – it had snowed considerably in the three and a half hours. It was also still snowing, and my car was covered with snow!
I used my snow brush to clear the windshield and windows but honestly, that was the least of my concerns. I was thinking of the drive back home. I was petrified.
I called my husband. He said, “You’ll be fine. Drive carefully.” That was it.
Channeling Sharon, my yoga teacher, I focused on inhaling and exhaling. I swallowed hard and whispered silent prayers when I hit the deserted highway. I was gripping the steering wheel so tightly that I had to periodically remind myself to relax. Each time the huge trucks with snowplows barrelled past me my heart raced. Literally, my head started to hurt.
I struggled to see the lanes as the snow swirled and I slowed to a crawl in the slow lane, hovering at 40-50km/h, half the speed limit.
Gradually I became aware of a car on my tail. It was steadily following me at the same speed. I peered into my rear-view mirror to check if it was the police, but it wasn’t. It was just another driver on this lonely highway, and they stayed behind me all the way until their exit.
The moment I got home I bowed my head in prayer. What was the lesson in all of this? Apart from making sure I read the weather report in the future I had two big takeaways:
Just keep on going
Remember Dory from Nemo “just keep swimming”? Through the nervousness I told myself, just keep going – as far as you can see in front of you, go that distance and just keep going. I took it one kilometer at a time, at a pace I could sustain. Life is like that sometimes. Quitting isn’t an option. Take it one day at a time and you will get where you are meant to be. This works whether you are growing your business, building your blog (reminder to self), or driving in snow on the highway for the first time. You feel stronger and braver when you push through.
You are a beacon of light
Remember that car behind me on the highway? I realized that I was their beacon of light. It’s a heck of a thing when you are out of your comfort zone. You might think you are not doing well; you may be scared out of your mind and want to give up. What you don’t realize is that there is someone for whom you are a beacon of light. You represent the way forward and they are following in your path. They are silently cheering you on.
If you are in doubt today, grappling with a big problem or even a small one, remember to ‘just keep going’. Never underestimate the influence you have on others when you live by example. You are a beacon of light.
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