Something New – Part 7

“The challenge of the Silver Gate is to reconnect to our regenerative forces and stay connected to them. Many cultures of the world have traditional practices to accomplish this.” Angeles Arrien
I am intrigued by an Ancient European custom cited in this section that is still practiced in some areas of the world. The challenge is to do something never before tried each month. The custom is to do it on one’s birthdate, but I will play fast and loose with that.
* * *
This month’s challenge was the most enlightening for me. It involved struggle rather than enjoyment. Self-examination rather than adding a layer of sophistication or skill.
I went on one of my “spotting” trips this month. One of those lovely times when I am able to join someone I love to share an experience. I started this many years ago as my family began to spread and travel. I wanted to be able to see them, to visualize them in place when they came to mind.
I have taken trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific flights. I have driven to college dorms, flown to many cities and states, made quick visits, long sojourns, and everything in between. And it has all been good.
Being a frugal traveler I have learned to work with the system. I can book flights, find cut-rate hotels, and suss out the best car deal across the U. S. And I have a way of using every resource available.
Early in the month I left the West Coast on a Saturday afternoon and landed in Orlando, Florida to pick up a rental car and drive for over an hour to the town where one of my college grandsons is doing a research internship. Even though it was still early on my time, I was worn out from travel as I stood in line at the rental counter.
“Do you want insurance?”
“I believe I already paid for that.”
“But do you want extra?”
“No”
Blah, blah, blah…
“How about gas? Do you want to pay in advance?”
Wearily, I looked at him with the pen poised. Did I want to prepay for gas? I had NEVER in my life left anything on the table for a rental agency. I wasn’t sure how much driving I would do. I wasn’t going that far, was I?
“Yes, I’ll prepay!”
What????
Thus ended my personal hell at the counter and began my personal hell in my mind. As I drove, I watched for the gas gauge to fall. I had (of course) rented a compact. How much gas did it even use? What if I only used a quarter of a tank? What had I done.
My grandson and I laughed ruefully over my dilemma. He knows me. He understood – in a way.
I found myself going against all I believe in ecologically, leaving the car running as I waited in the parking lot of his University. Sure it was hot, but I would not normally sit in a car with the air-conditioner running when I could get out and sit under a tree. Was I willing to sacrifice my principals to use $15 worth of gas rather than leave some in the tank?
Really?
I spent a lot of my alone time in self-examination. What was really at the base of my discomfort? I knew why I had agreed to prepay. I was exhausted and facing an unknown drive as well as a late evening return on the night before my flight. I had no idea of the surrounds of the Orlando airport or where I would gas up when I returned the car. I could predict my anxiety as I faced my car return deadline. What was the perfect point at which to gas up? What would my timing be like if I spent every squeezed the joy from each spare moment my grandson could spare me?
I had to face my issue. It was a matter of self-worth. Which was more important (since I could well afford it) – saving a few dollars or making this quick trip across the country an enjoyable time with the least stress possible?
It took a lot of self-talk to convince myself that my first instinct was the right one. Yes, it was an enlightening challenge this month.
The Student
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Filed under Angeles Arríen, The Challenge, The Second Half of Life, The Silver Gate

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