Yesterday I got in my car, all bright as a button at 6:45 and the gear shift knob was stuck in PARK. It would not budge, even though everything else was working like a car is supposed to work – radio on, lights on, heat pumping and so on. This is not something I had anticipated, and like the time there was a black bear hidden beneath the walkway to the beach, when I lived on the Atlantic Ocean, it made me realize a person cannot always prepare for the things that will go wrong in life. As the Bahamians used to say so eloquently, “Tings happen.”
I called a tow truck, explained my car was on the second floor of a covered parking lot with the gate barcode on the car, and he was all master of the universe, “no probs, lady – be there in a jiffy”. When he arrived he called and said, “I can’t get it there with this rig! That’s a covered parking lot.”
I didn’t even bother to mention I had told him where the car was located when we were on the phone. Instead I thought, “All is lost. I guess the car will just fester there until someone can take it apart in small pieces and remove it. I will lose my job and have to work at the Jimmy Johns on the corner because I can walk to work and if Dee leaves here I will be forced to live in the stinky utility closet with the garbage chute and keep my belongings in a box.” Then I had an overwhelming desire to get into bed with a party pack of M&Ms and binge watch Nurse Jackie on Netflix.
That is catastrophic thinking. Psychology Today describes it as, “Ruminating about irrational, worst case outcomes…it can increase anxiety and prevent people from taking action in a situation where action is required…” Catastrophic thinking is the exact opposite of Bahamian, blithe stoicism.
Of course the tow truck driver (not given to catastrophic thinking) offered to “take a look” and $40 later, after he had watched a few YouTube videos on the subject and punched the gear shift with a fist, I was back on the road and feeling hopeful again. I’m not sure where my fatalistic response came from, but it was ugly and frankly, scary…
You are smart people. Do I need to tell you to stop catastrophic thinking as soon as it starts? That catastrophic thinking will derail your best laid plans? One of the reasons I have gotten through the mess I got myself into with alcohol, is by taking things a day at a time – learning to deal with the issues I can fix each day and putting the rest in a box. No longer do I compartmentalize to the point of delusion, but I try not to think about the fact I might have my car breakdown in a deserted parking lot at Guana Reserve, when I am happily tooling along a busy highway. It’s a matter of degree.
Yesterday was just a bump in the road…