The wind was howling and the rain blew sideways like sheets of frosty glass that made it hard to see beyond the windshield. We were on our way to get a foot massage, a cozy suggestion made by Michael given the stormy night that lay ahead. I was driving and as we entered the highway I made a point to slow down and carefully watch for merging traffic.
Picking up speed once the coast was clear, we chatted about the day and how much we were looking forward to relaxing and enjoying a foot soak and massage. Suddenly, without warning, I noticed a wide river of water running across the road. In a split second, I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw a car coming up on my left. I had no choice but to stay in my lane and deal with the drama before us.
Hold on! I yelled to Michael as we hit the rushing water going fifty miles an hour. Fortunately, I didn’t have the luxury of being scared. It all happened so fast that I snapped into the present moment and focused on the task at hand.
As our SUV plowed through the floodwaters, spray shot up on either side of us, rising more than ten feet in the air. The sound of rushing water filled the car as I steered forward, carefully pressing the brake to try and keep us steady. In a flash, we were in the clear, my state of steely presence replaced with cortisol now coursing through my body.
“We’re okay,” Michael offered gently as I pressed the turning signal and planned to exit the highway. “Take a deep breath, you’re alright.”
I shook my body to release the energy, knowing all too well that holding onto the anxiety would keep the fear locked in my cells. “Tap,” Michael also reminded me as he started tapping himself. I drummed my fingers on a spot just below my collarbone and quickly felt my body start to relax. Needless to say, the massage was a welcome remedy to the stress of our crazy adventure.
Life is a wild ride. We love and lose and celebrate and cringe. We do our best to stay steady and yet sometimes we have no choice but to face the fire and hope for the best knowing that a good outcome is never promised.
I do know this: The next time I encounter floodwaters, I’ll trust myself a little more to handle it. And I’ll be less afraid. That’s the benefit of facing life head on. What challenges us makes us stronger. It stretches us beyond our comfort zones, gives us confidence, and allows us to welcome in even more of life.
While I prefer to avoid life-threatening experiences, I'm grateful for the gifts that growth has to offer.