Broken Indicator

My mom’s car had an indicator that her right blinker had gone out. You know the one: tickticktickticktickticktickticktick.

For a week we rode around together, she, freaked out to switch lanes, me, waving my hand out the passenger side window asking cars to let us in.

Today I asked if she’d taken it to get fixed. She told me that when the mechanic checked it out, the blinkers all worked just fine; it was the indicator that was broken.

Oh my, did that make me laugh! Because how much is that just like life?? We get a signal, usually in the form of an emotion or a stressful thought, and we immediately think “Uh oh! Something is wrong!” When that happens, we feel like we’re in some kind of danger. “She doesn’t like me.” “There won’t be enough.” “He’s upset with me.” “I’ll be all alone.” “I really should…” “I really shouldn’t…” “WTF did that mean?” “I’m an idiot.” “I don’t like her anyway.” And on and on and on. All these thoughts that tell us something is wrong, bad, off, or dangerous…

…And yet, here we all are, me writing, you reading, and actually, ultimately, other than what these thoughts would have us believe, everything is at the very least, Okay.

Yesterday, a friend said he’d call and he didn’t. My-oh-my, does my brain love that indicator. The stories that can pour forth from one missed phone call are absolutely off the charts: “No one likes me.” “I’m unlovable.” “I’m not important.” “I’m not interesting.” “I must not be doing enough with my life.” “I’ll be alone forever.”

I mean…WHAT? That’s crazy. It’s like I’m driving around with this tickticktickticktick incessantly telling me that something’s wrong.

But is it? When I check it out, I notice all the stories are BS. Plenty of people like me. I’m loved by the people I love. I’m important to me and my family, and I find myself endlessly fascinating. I’m doing more with my life than even I can keep up with. Yesterday alone I knit a scarf, learned a new Beiber song on the guitar (!?), reorganized my kitchen, biked, danced, painted, and socialized. And alone forever? When I check, have I ever really been alone? No! Never!

Like my mom’s car, my indicator happens to have loose wires that tell me things are broken when they just aren’t. When that indicator goes off, I will usually react, because that’s just what happens, but how quickly can I remember to be skeptical? If I get really nervous I can always take it to a professional to have it checked out. “Ok, give it to me straight, how doomed am I?”

So far, I haven’t ever found something truly wrong. But one of the best side effects of investigating this broken indicator, is discovering, over and over and over again, that everything actually is a-okay.

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