Some life lessons come packaged in an instant. They’re the sort that you miss if you blink. I had a “funny in hindsight” moment on a mountain bike ride last weekend and as brief as the moment was, its implications keep expanding like one of those kid’s dinosaur sponges that grow to many times their original size when placed in water.
To make a short story long, I was zooming down a relatively technical (to me) downhill, one that required the majority of my mental and physical focus. I was going fast and the trail was fraught with turns and obstacles around and over which I had to maneuver. I could slow down but not stop without consequence and I certainly couldn’t spare a hand to deal with what was about to land on the doorstep of my experience.
I was on top of the world, large and in charge, and a millisecond later a yellow jacket decided to land on my nose and have a look around. I blew as hard as I could over my top lip (remember I was screaming down hill) to try and dislodge it, but my efforts were fruitless. I could see him in great detail, thanks to the amazing side-effects of the adrenaline rush he caused and I swear to you that I could even see his knees.
He turned downward, his stinger was straight up, and then stuck his head in my left nostril. I don’t remember exactly, but I am pretty sure I started blowing harder while simultaneously considering what to do: swat him with my hand and likely lose control and suffer a physical injury requiring weeks of healing time or wait for the sting and get over that pain in a couple of days. I elected the latter, but fortunately the sting never came. Fortunately, he finally got enough of his body in the wind tunnel I was creating and buzzed quickly out of sight.
All of this likely happened in the course of two or three seconds. I cannot help but think of how much detail we miss while moving through life on autopilot in a typical day! It proved to me that work I’ve done to maintain grace under pressure was paying off, as the emergency in my field of circumstance did not pull me from the larger task to which I was committed at the time. It also served to reinforce my belief of the power of relaxation, especially in times of high pressure or stress.
In most situations, the extension of control comes more from relaxation than it does from force. This is as true in the classroom as it is in the cockpit, saddle or driver’s seat. The next time you find yourself under the gun, find a way to relax more deeply, physically, mentally and emotionally. It may just end up saving your life!