When I was driving across country to go from theater to theater I would stop and fill my gas tank every time I hit the quarter tank mark. You have to remember, yes, I’m not so old that I didn’t have a cell phone, but old enough that I had my directions printed out from Mapquest before I left my home.
Most of the time, the drive I was making was from Illinois to Arizona, as I worked out west quite often. The drive into Arizona or back home to Illinois took two total days – each day amounting to about fifteen hours of driving.
My greatest fear as a woman trekking across the country on her own was getting stalled on the side of the road somewhere. And, if you’ve ever taken this trip, you know that at times you can go for hours without seeing another car, or another gas station. And, cell service back then was spotty to say the least. Though, to be honest, years have passed and that might not be as true as before.
So, I stuck to my quarter tank rule and never had any problem. Until, I did. Or, we did.
After finishing up my work on a Christmas show, Jeffrey, my husband, flew into Arizona. Our plan was to take the next ten days, go to Sedona, the Grand Canyon, go up to Las Vegas to visit a friend, and then start back home.
Jeffrey thought my quarter tank rule was silly.
“Babe, you can go another hundred miles before you have to stop.”
Now, he’s pretty good at calling me out on my fears and anxieties that don’t make much sense. But, he had never taken a road trip through the Southwest. So, when I was behind the wheel, I would fill up the tank like I usually did – at a quarter tank. Jeffrey, instead, would fill it up when the gas light came on.
Everything was going great during our trip. We hiked through Sedona in awe of the red rocks and awesome energy. We both stood with our jaws hanging open as we gazed at the views from the side of the Grand Canyon.
As we set off to head up to Las Vegas I had forgotten about how we had disagreed about when to fill up the gas tank. Jeffrey was probably right, we didn’t need to be that crazy about it.
Driving through Nevada, it started to rain as the sun dipped down the horizon.
Jeffrey was driving and I was curled up in the passenger seat with a good book, when he said one word.
It was the tone of his voice that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.
“What?” I responded but as soon as the words came out of my mouth, I saw the gas light was on.
“Why don’t you pull out the map and see if there is a town coming up soon,” he said, his jaw tensely set as he continued to make the drive through the desert.
Pulling out our map, I tried to locate where we might be. (Anyone else remember life before GPS?) All I saw was a long strip of highway with nothing coming up and nothing behind us. When I looked at my cell phone I had no service. We were in the middle of nowhere. If we stalled, we would have no gas and no way to call someone to help us. Holy crap.
At first, I panicked. I yelled at Jeffrey for not listening to me. Fear for what might come of this clawed at my throat. It really was my greatest fear at the time and here I was realizing it.
To be sitting in the passenger seat, staring out at the pitch-black rainy night, with no way of preventing whatever might happen, was horrible. I felt every inch of my fear and then, what happened next was something I will never forget.
I relaxed into it. Because once you are in the middle of your fear what you realize is there is nothing to do, but move through and do the next best thing you can think of.
Jeffrey slowed down a bit to save on gas and see if we could make it somewhere before we inevitably stalled out. We were quiet and concentrated. I prayed. I looked at the map, still not able to find a possible place to stop. I checked my cell phone again and again to see if I would get service.
After about forty-five minutes to an hour of this torture, when we were through hoping that we wouldn’t end up on the side of the road in the next couple of minutes, by some miracle we came upon a gas station, arriving on mere fumes as we pulled in.
Now, I know it was a miracle, but not in the way you think.
It was one of the first times I had to sit with my fear and notice it. Notice where it was rational and irrational. Notice where and when it dissipated, so I could do what I needed to do – which was remain calm and support Jeffrey as he drove on. And, notice how you can move past your fear.
It’s the same with your fear in your yoga practice. Turning upside down is crazy scary the first hundred times. So, is dropping back into Wheel. But, you begin to understand where the fear is both rational and irrational and work through it.
But, let’s be real. The fact that we made it to the gas station without stalling out was a miracle.
How do I know? Jeffrey a few months later was driving home from Chicago to the Quad Cities where we used to live. It’s a three-hour drive. He had about forty-five minutes left on the drive when the gas light came on. Figuring he can totally make it after he made it through that night in Nevada, he decided to skip filling up as he passed gas station after gas station. And, he stalled out on the side of the road. He was lucky a police officer pulled over and helped him out.
I often tease him that he needs to acknowledge a miracle when you get one. We all do.
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Tori Hicks-Glogowski is an online yoga instructor and yoga business coach and mentor for yoga teachers. She is the author of the book, "Views from the Podium: The Life & Times of a Hot Yogi," and has been writing and sharing her yoga experience for the past seven years. Find out more about Tori now.