One of the sinking feelings along the path is having your mode of transportation let you down. You negotiate the morning ritual and step outside to notice your sharp start has gone flat in the shape of a non-round tire. You can hear the hiss of the day and its smooth start slip away…
I’ve had one encompassing idea that has stayed with me as long as I can remember—even before a father’s path. Wherever I was, was the best place to be—no matter what. As a kid, it turned isolation into a world of creativity with many moving parts. As an adult, it keeps me from wandering and wondering about things, people, and places that are not here, not present. For example, in the early days, I remember my wife asking how I got the boys clean in the bathtub. They always seemed to give her a hard time. This is not a comment on our parenting or relationships, but rather a look at meaning. For the boys, bath time with mom at the helm was about getting clean. For me, it was cherished time after a long day away from them. I couldn’t wait to see them. It didn’t matter where we were, and if it just happened to be the tub, and I was intent on drinking them up and being with them.
They got clean by default. Purely a consequence of time and space. Water and soap were just a part of the atmosphere.
So way back when the flat tire presented an alternate reality, I sighed, whispered a few words about the timing and remembered that I was in the best place in the world: pit row. The boys were into cars and trucks, and my oldest had a brief attraction to NASCAR.
It was on. Changing the tire was one of the most memorable moments of the year. Three of us on pit row grinning, getting dirty, each with a responsibility for getting the car back on the track. We didn’t set any records for quickest change, and the NASCAR pit crew jobs are not in jeopardy, but the atmosphere and the outcome was one for the records.
I don’t wish for flats, and life brings enough challenge without invitation. But years later I can still remember the feeling, the faces, the excitement of breaking the news: “Boys, we are heading to pit row!”