rain check

For a couple of years now, I have been increasingly fearful of driving my car in what I tend to refer to as “weather.” Meaning, of course, rain or snow of any sort of noticeable intensity.

So much so, in fact, that a few months back I missed a chance to have lunch with a friend in Boston — really just because the forecast was for rain. Heavy, torrential rain.

So I called and canceled, even though I had been looking forward to it for weeks.

Then a few days ago, I replaced the windshield wipers on my car. And today, I drove to Boston in a heavy, torrential downpour. No sweat.

Why? Apparently, the only reason I hated driving in the rain was because of the diminished visibility. I thought that the lousy vision I had through my windshield was what everybody was burdened with — and I couldn’t understand why everybody wasn’t as freaked out as I was in nasty weather.

As I made my way home through the heavy rain, hands pleasantly unclenched, heart beating at a normal rate, I though about how such a simple piece of technology — inexpensive, and something I was able to install myself — made such an enormous difference in my perception and my experience.

Let’s leave aside for the moment the fact that I should have figured out sooner that it was my wiper blades, not my bravery, that was the real issue here.

To me, it’s a reminder that simple, everyday technologies can have a significant impact on our lives for the better. The addition of one simple thing can lead to a disproportionate increase in things that are not so simple, like freedom, confidence, independence.

It’s also reminding me how one minor success can lead to a disproportionate willingness to risk more, and to gain more.

Like, when I first learned how to change a tire, it suddenly made me feel like Hey, I know a thing or two about cars! Even if that wasn’t technically true, it was my attitude that allowed me to feel confidence when dealing with the automotive shop guys, the people I eventually sold my car to, and the people I bought successive cars from.

Because I took that small step years ago to learn one basic thing about my car — how to change my own tire — I benefitted from a serious ripple effect for years after.

I see the same thing with the adoption of online skills, especially in my work with relative novices, mostly artists, teaching them about the online tools that might help them be more successful.

While there might be resistance at first — and in some it is, in fact, never overcome — in some, all it takes is one small success, one tiny experience of well, I can do THAT to open up a world of possibilities, to plant the idea in someone’s head, sure, I know a thing or two about computers/blogging/podcasting/whatever

Rachel Happe was talking about the importance of getting to the AHA Moment not long ago, and I think this might be a variation on that theme.

And, since she was the friend I stood up a few months ago, before I knew a thing or two about wiper blades, I hope I can celebrate this AHA moment with her, by rescheduling our postponed lunch from a few months back.

Have you had an AHA moment — in any area of life? How did it change things for you?


6 responses to “rain check

  1. My Aha moment was almost exactly a year ago. Depressed about my job at a nonprofit I had supported ardently for years before I worked there–dying program, unethical behavior, abusive working conditions–I had decided to quit. A long discussion with a co-worker about what the program should/could be started me thinking that instead of just quitting, I should try to change things. The concept that I wasn’t just an interchangeable cog in a bureaucratic machine, that I could create change, was a crack in the universe, a lightening bolt. First, I made a terrifying attempt to change the existing organization. When that was obviously not going to amount to much, I joined my co-worker in creating a new organization. I am designing my own meaningful job–not my dream job, because I never would have dreamed this big. I’ve never been poorer, but I’ve never been happier. If I died today, I would be satisfied because I didn’t just dream about having an impact on the world, I took action and can see that I have had an impact–small, maybe, but more than I could ever have imagined was possible.

  2. What a great story, Jeane. I think this might be a common element of lots of AHA moments – the realization that we have power, that we can be agents of change, that we can do something, that circumstances might not be limiting us as much as our perception of them are.

    Sounds a bit wackadoo, but it applies to life-changing stories like your own, and something as simple as understanding how a blog works.

    Which can also, as a matter of fact, be life-changing.

  3. This is a great post, Beth, and I love Jeane’s comment.

    This is more about mastering a skill than finding the right piece of technology, but I remember the first website I ever built – the frustration of not knowing how to do things and then persevering through the frustration until I figured it out. Wow. What a feeling of expansion and excitement came over me when it actually worked! It was like a whole new world opening up before me (and I’ve never looked back).

    Much much earlier in my life, when I was 14, I made a decision to leave my narrow home and seek adventure in the wide wide world…throwing myself on the mercy of strangers ala Blanche DuBois. ๐Ÿ™‚ Again, this wasn’t so much a specific tool I discovered, but in this case it was a discovery about myself, and about life.

    I found that most people are kind, that most of us out there are good-hearted, and that was an incredible ‘aha’ moment that changed my life, literally. My experience could have been very different, of course, and it wasn’t all hearts and flowers, but having that positive early experience was a major factor in giving me the courage needed to live my own life.

  4. Mine came when I quit my corporate job in 1999 after months of panic attacks and withstood other people’s questions and comments: “but why would you leave such a great job?”

    The human body & mind can only take so much stress before it starts to tell you something. So man people don’t listen, they take a pill to make it better, they say they have no other options. I hated my job, it was not just stressing me out, it was depressing me. I tried going back to a different, seemingly less stressful job a few years later and the cubicle walls drove me nuts.

    I don’t make anywhere near as much money now but I am a lot happier. No more pantyhose either! HA!

    I have found winter blades are wonderful things to put on in October in preparation for snow. The ice doesn’t get stuck in the holes because they are covered.

  5. A small techie Aha moment was when I “got” rss feeds. Within hours I had Google reader and subscriptions to about a dozen feeds that normally I rechecked all day. So simple! Oh the time I could save! The Google updates I could get to check on references to me or relevent topics! Sooo many more people I could now follow and read without guilt! That’s why I’m here. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Hi Beth – this is exactly what I was talking about – albeit with a different type of technology. And while you are at the wiper blades, may I recommend RainEx….amazing stuff and probably horrible for the environment but it makes your windshield she water like a duck.

    And I would love to reschedule lunch/dinner ๐Ÿ™‚

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