I have learned the hard way that life is not only unfair and sucks at times, it has a sense of humor and a wicked one at that. Life has shamelessly tossed my ass into predicaments, which ranked from the minutely mundane to extraordinarily wonderful adventures and embarrassing situations from which I thought I’d never recover. Sadly, I had to repeat some of the episodes before life would allow me to move on to another chapter to learn more about my journey. But most of the experiences left indelible footprints in my heart in a good way.
Fate has a heavy hand in life’s lessons too. One common, irritating dilemma tops my list. This particularly sneaky, cunning and conniving nuisance is fully armed and capable of turning even hard-core optimists into permanent piss-and-vinegar pessimists. Today, it pranced and prowled and preened, randomly picking another hapless victim–me.
Stepping smartly through the crisp fall air, I brimmed with confidence as I focused on my goal and intended destination. It was a comfort to know that my memory hardly failed me in such routine situations. Abruptly, something broke my stride as if I had hit a brick wall. My brisk pace slowed to a snail’s crawl when I realized that something was amiss. Something was terribly and horribly wrong. Regrettably, my memory bank had closed for the day. Feeling a deep and sudden loss, I stood still, foolishly believing that the lack of movement would somehow re-energize my brain so that I could continue my journey uninterrupted. As I inhaled deeply and exhaled wearily, my body intentionally added unnecessary angst as my shoulders slumped down in defeat and my arms dangled limply at my sides in surrender.
Though the chilly air kept me conscious, utter confusion and dismay brushed aside my self-assurance and gradually took over. I began to wonder if the onset of a ‘why-me?’ stupor revealed my deteriorating mental and waning physical condition. With my mouth agape and eyes bugged out, I hung my head down as I succumbed to more disillusionment. Despite this drastic change in my usually calm, cool-as-a-cucumber demeanor, I managed to tenaciously hang on to the ounce of strength I had left to stave off making a public spectacle of myself. Raising my noggin, I took in a deep breath again and threw my shoulders back to steady my stance. Running my fingers through my hair, I smiled weakly at this minor, temporary setback. I thought if I looked like I knew what I was doing, I could act like I knew what I was doing. I was determined to win this one and not let it get the best of me–not this time.
Seemingly, a light bulb flicked on in my head as I gradually recalled my purpose, yet my path and direction still remained unclear. I moved around aimlessly but quickly arrived at the sobering realization that making progress eluded me. Desperate for relief, I recalled a childhood tactic, which almost always worked whenever I started to stress out if things weren’t going my way—crying and screaming as if I was being beaten to a pulp by thugs. But I quickly dismissed that strategy because it could get me hauled away and locked up. Pitiful as I knew I looked, I thought passers-by would show some compassion and empathy and come to my aid, but reality struck me another blow. From the quizzical looks on their faces, many were also knee-deep in the same sink hole and chose to ignore my silent plea for help. Barbarians! The lot of them! Sadly, I was alone with this one.
Bravely, I forged ahead in my perplexing search. Carefully, I scanned the area again for something, a tiny clue, anything to jog my stagnant memory. Like a curse which wouldn’t go away, the embarrassment of losing something so near and dear to me, and losing it so quickly, proved frightening and hard to accept. Pausing to look around again, I winced and scratched my head in frustration. I checked my watch; only five minutes had passed since my patience starting ebbing away like support … Though it seemed almost hopeless, I still struggled to keep a firmer grip on my waning dignity. With sweat pouring down my face, I tried hard to avoid two things: looking highly conspicuous and extremely stupid at the same time. Unfortunately, I failed on both these counts because I felt ashamed at the curious stares the passers-by flung my way. I felt so useless, so dejected, and so alone.
I made a last-ditch effort, hoping that the pathetic look on my face would spare me further humiliation. I spread my arms wide and lifted my head up, focusing my eyes to the heavens, pleading silently for mercy, begging for Divine intervention. I prayed for something, anything, a boy scout, a flare or a gaudy neon sign to show me the way before darkness would make my plight almost impossible to resolve. With my left hand on my hip, I bowed my head down, raised my right hand to my forehead and slowly rubbed my fingers across it as I strained to remember: ‘WHERE THE HELL DID I PARK MY CAR?