Monday Musings: Remember Mom, the universe is out to get us Mahon’s!

The universe is out to get me! This is not a foreign thought. In fact, I often feel this way and I’m sure you do too. It’s those times when you feel like you can finally breathe… and then, of course, something else goes wrong. But not just one thing, it’s like the dam breaks and the water rushes in. It could start with something minor, but soon the minors add up and it feels like you are in the major league of panic and negative emotions. And then you whisper, or sometimes scream in your head: “Why me!” And so my son brilliantly offers the reason: “It’s because we are Mahon’s!”

Well, this week I was at a conference. I absorbed a ton of information and stored it in my headspace. The topics allowed me to learn a lot about myself and about the people I work with and teach. The process of learning thrills me and no matter how great or how poor a seminar is, I know I can always walk away with at least one new thing that I didn’t know before. I continually make it my practice to search for that novel idea so my mind doesn’t give up or tune out when I’m listening. And if the content doesn’t do it for me, well, there’s always the observation of the other people around me. And that always proves to be fascinating.

So, it was the second last day of the conference. It had been a very full day and I really needed to retreat to recharge my batteries. I found a quiet place in somewhat of a library setting and began to review some documents. There were several people around me also independently gazing at their work, when this woman approached me. Why me and not them? I have no idea. But so it began: “How are you liking the conference?” I knew by the tone of voice that she wasn’t overly thrilled. And right then I should have said something light and trivial and indicated politely that I was needing to do some work. But oh no. I gave my ear and quickly got sucked into the vortex of negativity.

She was a good salesperson, turning the conversation towards me and my interests to woo me, and then slyly diverting it back towards complaining. And I fell for it. It slowly felt like a wet blanket draping over my shoulders that somehow I couldn’t shake off, and the weight of it bore down on my spirit. Why did I fall for it? Why didn’t I leave? Because I held out hope that maybe she was one of these rare people who was truly interested in me. The time for supper arrived and instead of feeling refreshed from my break, I felt heavy and weak, exposed and used. And I kept thinking, where did she come from? Why was I carved out of the pack, when she could have chosen any of the other half dozen or so people around me? The logical answer: because I am a Mahon.

Well, having raised five children, and rarely eating a hot meal, especially one that I haven’t made myself, I always thoroughly enjoy conference fare. In fact, it could be Delissio pizza, made by the caterers, and I would still love it. So I deliberately switched my head space, scraping off the poncho of pessimism, and sat down to find solace in some food. Then I got a text message. And it said something that made me go from zero to sixty in a flash. Has that ever happened to you? You have just regrouped, and seconds later, boom, the downward spiral happens again. And I think technology has made this worse for us. The accessibility and availability we now offer to the universe, makes it so much more likely that these events will occur. There’s some valuable advice in turning devices off! So I grounded myself (a technique I had been taught and practiced interestingly enough earlier that day) and chose not respond. But it lingered in my mind, not totally gone. This day felt like a roller coaster of energy and emotion. But the universe was not done with me yet…

The meal was over and so I departed, looking very much forward to spending time with my son who lived in the city where the conference was. I chatted with some people in the elevator and descended into the underground parking garage. I found my car easily, unlocked it, and then a stranger stopped me to ask a question. Trying to be helpful, I put all of my belongings in the car, including the car keys, and I closed the door so I could assist her. As I shut the car door, my brain shifted to slow motion as I watched, from a dissociative state, the angle of the door close and lock. I locked myself out of my vehicle all because I was distracted trying to be a good citizen helping someone else out! Why was this happening to me?? Universe! Oh universe!

For at least the third time that day, my adrenaline rushed again as I tried to think my way out of this. Overriding emotion with logic, and after assisting the stranger, I asked if she had CAA. (I had that service but of course my card was locked in the car with every other piece of identification. The only thing I had on me was my cellphone.) She said she was too busy and had to get on her way. All right then! Plan B. I go upstairs to the conference area where many people were still mulling around. I find some familiar faces and gamble that one of them will have CAA. Fortunately someone did! Okay. The universe is taking pity on me and this will be over shortly. Well…apparently the universe was not done with me yet!

Did you know that CAA will not unlock a vehicle if it is a rental? I could not believe it!! The dispatcher offered to give me the number of a locksmith and also encouraged me to call the rental company back where I picked the car up and of course was closed by this time. Plan C. Plan D. I almost got to Z! I texted my son and told him this was going to be a long night. And that’s when he responded wisely: “Remember Mom, the universe is out to get us Mahon’s!”

Now, I know that what I was experiencing at the time were first world problems. I get that. There are far greater issues that many people are facing every single day. But it seems to me that life truly is this perpetual, unpredictable roller coaster. It’s rarely smooth sailing and it takes very little to capsize us. How strong are our internal resources to weather the storm(s)? It’s the cumulative effect of stress that reaches a tipping point and then we’re done. In the end, we can’t control the universe. And even though it may feel like it’s out to get us, we cannot surrender to its gravitational pull towards despair. Just as my mindset was established going into the conference, I was going to drive away with one thing I didn’t know before. And I did! How to get into a locked vehicle in an underground parking lot in a city that never sleeps!

Remember: there is always, always a way out, or in my case, a way in to the vehicle. As Nelson Mandela puts it so well: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

This week's song is "Ironic" by Canadian songstress Alanis Morissette.

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