Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Contingency Plans and (hopefully) Good Advice

Today while driving along 84 east, I saw a mattress on the side of the road. It is not normally there, which might explain why it caught my eye. My first thought was much along the lines of "Nice. What moron would not only fail to secure a mattress to their car/truck but then not at least stop to pick it up off the road after it attempted a run as a kite?"

My next few thoughts were more like mental flashes.
A mattress in the middle of the road; what maneuvers would I take to avoid hitting it and/or the other cars around me.

A mattress on a truck in front of me, the wind whips it up and off the bed. Then, after making a shallow and terrifying arch in the air, it lands squarely on my windshield. What do I do then? I assessed the images in my head and came up with a plan or two.

First of all, it would be important not to freak out and swerve like a crazy.

Then - going with the mattress/plywood on the windshield thing - I would quickly but gradually slow down and pull to the right side of the road, using my passenger window and mirror to gage how quickly I was coming up on the shoulder. Then I would stop and possibly start crying.

Now, if the mattress were in the middle of the road, all I would really have to do is maintain control of the car, making a wide sweep, while slowing down at a reasonable pace, to the nearest shoulder and around the mattress. There was once, when I was driving to SLC with my mom and we happened upon a ladder in the middle of I-15 just before Beck Street. In what seemed like simulcast, I looked in the rear view, side view mirrors and turned on my left blinker; then I swept to the left and avoided the ladder. Granted, I was within about four inches of the car behind me, but I should also point out that I sped up to get that four inches between us.

Wow. Just describing it gives me a fear induced adrenaline rush.

These sorts of "Bad Scenarios" often then lead me to think, "Okay, what would I do if so and so in the car died?"

Mixed with those thoughts is an odd sort of self training. The last couple of times I've been in a relatively near miss, I have not shouted, "Oh come on you pile of @%&*!" No, instead I have said, "I love you kids!"

We have not yet been in a life threatening accident. Hopefully my mental Worst Case Scenario preparation will continue to keep us from it. And still I have taken the time to make sure that if I die in a car crash, the last words my kids will hear me say are, " I love you kids."

This may be morbid. But it's how I cope. It's how I roll. I also have mental plans for if an intruder breaks into our house armed with a variety of weapons or intents. I know how I'm going to get the family out of our house should it catch fire, and have a different route based on where the fire starts. Muad'Dib and I have discussed a meeting place should there be a disaster.

I have even talked myself into a bit of emotional preparation should any of my loved ones exit this life.

Why do I do this? Not sure, really. It began long ago. I play out my fantasies, dreams, plans and fears in great visual and emotional detail - just in my head. And I have a superstition. That is: "If I plan for it, it won't happen." I deep down hold to the belief that if I am prepared for it, "it" will not happen. And if I haven't thought of it, that's the "it" that will come out to play.

For instance: I never prepared to gain a ridiculous amount of weight while pregnant. I had planned for a perfect pregnancy, and five children all in a row. Hmm.

I didn't prepare to play Lily Craven in Secret Garden. Yet that's who I played.

I never planned on visiting Japan, yet that is the only place I've been outside the U.S.

I had an understudy for every bride but one in Seven Brides. And guess which one got hurt? You guessed it.

What interests me right now is that seeing the mattress and the subsequent tendency to plan for the very worst and most gruesome is the topic that rose to the top of my thoughts this evening when I sat to the blog.

My life coach, Wildman, once asked me, "What's the worst that could happen?" He meant it in a specific context; and yet I cope with seeing " the worst" and then deciding how I would meet it.

Okay: Swordfish thought: I was speaking to a friend today that I have not seen in a month or two. She was going on about how a particular first grade teacher yelled at her and demanded that her son be in the show today; downright attacking her mothering.

I listened patiently the first time she told the story, though the descriptions did not even remotely match the woman that I knew. So then the third time she went through it, I stopped her with, "I'd like to play the devil's advocate for a moment."
She looked concerned.
"Knowing what I know of Mrs. Teacher, couldn't it be possible that you perceived her as yelling, when in fact you might have been feeling guilty and like a slacker-mom anyway?"
Her eyes went wide. "No. I don't think so."
"So, you had your son out of school because he was sick for four days. This teacher, who has a reputation for being an absolute sweetheart, just plain has it out for you? She has picked you out of the sixty other parents she could yell at? Are you really that important?"
My friend laughed, and ran her hand through her hair, "No. I'm probably not. But then why did she yell at me?"
"Did she yell or did it just feel like she yelled? I do that sometimes. I remember what I was feeling and then when I retell the story to others, or even to myself, the person takes on characteristics that I assume they must have been exhibiting to get me to react the way I did."

Well, you would have thought I sprouted purple feathers from my head and bellybutton.
"Um . . ."
"I mean, if you were her: would you be really stressed out right now?"
"Yes . . ."
"And wouldn't you be a little snippy with a wishy-washy parent who was trying to make you decide whether or not their sick kid should be in the play today?"
"Well I hadn't thought about it like that."

Now that's a sentence I like. I like to hear itand I especially like to say it. I love to facilitate that in others, and even more I like the times when my brain is expanded just a bit; enough to utter those words myself.

What do these two commentaries have in common? I have no idea. But I did say I was going to post/blog more. So, take what you get. Unless someone would like to place an order. Anyone want me to review a book, movie, actor, song, picture, or gospel principle? Hey, I'll take suggestions. I'm just getting started here, after all.


Lori said...

i find myself doing that for most any situation, if i can work myself mentally and emotionally through most of the "what ifs" i tend to be able to move forward quicker. morbid, but works. :)

i'm glad you're going to be blogging more!

Fedaykin said...

My vote, perhaps you could begin your tutorial on how to pray and get answers, hear the spirit, feel His words, and increase spiritual sensitivity.