I had an unusual experience this week. On Monday night, election eve here in the United States, I was driving the freeway home. As I changed lanes my tire hit a pothole so hard I could feel it hit metal. I was momentarily surprised by this, it had never happened before even though I drive this particular route almost every day of the week. Yet there seemed to be no adverse consequences. I was home within five minutes and didn’t think about it again.
The next morning I got up early and drove over the Santa Cruz mountains to yoga, a journey of about 20 miles. After about 15 miles a warning light came on on my dashboard, with an accompanying ping to make sure I got the message. The warning was to inform me that a tire had reduced air pressure. The car was driving normally, I could neither hear nor feel anything amiss, so I continued over to the beach for my pre-yoga walk, intending to go to my mechanic on my way home.
Once I had finished my walk I got back into the car to drive to the yoga studio and I could feel the tire was flat, so I pulled over and called roadside assistance. Astonishingly, once I examined the tire, it had a three inch tear in its wall. I was shocked. I could not imagine how I had driven 20 miles on a tire with such a huge gash in it. Although the guy just put the donut on the car for me, allowing me to drive slowly home to my mechanic over the hill without any problems, I could not understand how it had all happened. It defied all laws of rationality and probability.
It was not till I was in another yoga class on Wednesday that I thought about the incident, and a different view of it dawned on me. It occurred to me that I was not doing anything out of the ordinary, just driving a road I drive all the time, at my customary speed. I hit a bump in the road, hard, that was both concerning and potentially a hazard to my progress. The car sat overnight and yet there was sufficient air in the tire to allow me to safely drive 20 miles along a narrow winding mountain road without incident or trouble. It was only once I was safely established at my destination did the damage, and its consequences, become evident, at which time I was able to call for help and get the assistance I needed to remedy the situation, without danger or harm, or cost (I had insurance) to myself, or anybody else.
This experience was so remarkable, so contradictory to both my past experience with punctures as well as what one would assume common sense would dictate would happen in such a situation, that I couldn’t help thinking: what if this was a metaphor for what America is going through at the moment post-election?
From this perspective, the election result was a sudden and unexpected jolt that shook and shocked many Americans, particularly as all the polls not only predicted the opposite result but with a 95% chance of its occurrence. So when the expected result did not eventuate many people reeled, and are still reeling, in confusion, anger and frustration. There are serious and substantial fears for what the new President will do, on both a personal and a national level.
But what if, despite all the pessimistic projections and prognoses, and regardless of all the ugly rhetoric and political posturing that is causing many to feel so worried and sad, everything is going to be ok? What if the coming months and years of this new administration will defy all laws of probability, blast all the predictions and expectations out of the water, and our winding and indirect path leads us ultimately to a safe delivery on the other side, where we will be able to then peacefully, and without stress or panic, resolve the issues that need to be addressed and remediated?
In such a scenario it might be important for us to proceed in a calm and steady manner, making no sudden jolts, turns or stops which, because of the precarious nature of our winding and narrow path, may potentially lead to chaos and devastation. It might be time to take guidance from the British World War II propaganda slogan that exhorted its citizens that were enduring attack and privation: keep calm and carry on. At the time of harvest, when the time is right, the chaff will be sifted from the wheat and that, even though we cannot see how or why at the moment, we may just find that all is, ultimately, well.