I startle very easily. “Very easily” actually might be an understatement. It’s quite ridiculous, really. From spiders to people, critters of all sizes catch me off guard time and again, nearly giving me a heart attack. My lack of ability to remain calm in ‘startling’ situations hit an all-time low last week. However, I truly believe that from every “great low”, a lesson can be found.
Last Friday, after finishing my morning pool running workout, I decided I was going to pick up some treats for the staff at my work. It was a busy week and everyone was feeling pretty drained, so a nice little pick me up was in order. I was patiently waiting at a stoplight, deep in thought about which donuts I would pick out, when a bee flew right in front of my face (yes, inside my car) and into my door window. Rather than calmly rolling down my window to let the little bee out, I flung the door open wildly and flailed my arms in effort to shoe it out. The bee, likely more terrified than I by now, hit the window and flew back into the car. At this point, I threw my body to the right, over my center console while ducking in effort to escape the wrath of the bee. Suddenly, my body involuntarily jerked forward. This was the moment I was brought back to the reality that I was in a vehicle. In the chaos of all the flailing, the door opening, the ducking…I managed to take my foot off the break and hit the car in front of me. The sweet lady must have been so confused looking in her rear view mirror at the sight of the frantic woman behind her.
Thankfully we were at a stop light and I just rolled into her bumper. We were both unharmed and I assume the bee made it out alright too.
When I got to the office, I was feeling pretty humiliated and shaken up. I was actually scared to drive. What if that happened on the freeway? Would I have flipped the car? What if I was actually driving? You would have thought I was attacked by killer bees as a child, given my reaction.
One of my co-workers suggested I start visualizing the situation happening again and how I will calmly respond. If it happens again then I will not be surprised, I will be prepared. (I love this idea. Visualization can be beneficial to many areas of life, especially running).
My husband (jokingly) told me to think about the bees feelings. “It’s just trying to be free!” While this idea is sweet, I am not sure it’s realistic in the heat of the moment.
These suggestions and recommendations are wonderful, but there is a bigger lesson for me here.
I startle because I am caught off guard. I am caught off guard because I am often so wrapped up in my own thoughts or agenda that I fail to notice my surroundings. Let’s be honest. Trying to jump out of car because of a spider (different story), or spastically flailing limbs because of a bee, is not a normal response. Over these past few weeks, I have been wrapped up in my head a lot. I am constantly thinking about training, running, injury recovery, work obligations, home life, my ‘plan’ for the week, schedules, etc. While keeping my mind on these things, it pulls me out of the present moment. It’s easy for me to get so focused and wrapped up in my world and my agenda. Maybe if I were to focus on being more present, a situation like this would not be so surprising, or earth-shattering for that matter.
Lesson from the Bee: Make it a daily priority to be present in the world around me.