Long ago, on Facebook, I recounted a story about Herbert Sinclair, the Gas Cap. It goes like this:
Many years ago, my friend Julia accompanied me during my trek from Washington State to Prescott Arizona. Somewhere along the way, my old, beat-up VW Scirocco with no radio and no air conditioning lost its gas cap.
My Scirocco got horrible gas mileage by default, but after the stop where I’m fairly certain I’d forgotten to replace the cap, my car seemed like it was leaking gas. We stopped in St. George, and knowing that we had to cross a pretty sizable expanse of desert in the morning, we decided we’d get up at 4 AM to make the final stretch to Prescott during the coolest hours of the day.
We went to gas up before getting a very late dinner at Denny’s.
That was when I discovered the missing gas cap. As I was prone to doing, I panicked. With the mileage we’d been getting, there was no way we’d make it across the abyss of desert, sans services, to Las Vegas, let alone all the way to Prescott. As we sat at Denny’s, we considered our options. We could get a gas can and fill it, but I had very little space in the car, considering it was filled with all of my worldly possessions at the time. We could stuff rags in and duct tape over it, but that just seemed risky. We could fill up and then just hope we made it. In a time before cell phones, none of these options were appealing.
Julia looked at me over our dinner, and with a big, happy grin, she said with matter-of-fact finality, “After we eat, we’re going to find an all-night car place. We’ll walk in, explain what happened, and they’ll hand you a gas cap. It will be right behind the counter, and it’ll fit perfectly. He’ll give it to you for free, and we’ll name it Herbert.”
I laughed. She smiled even bigger.
We finished our dinner and headed back toward our hotel. On the way, we noticed that the shop lights were on at the Sinclair gas station. We stopped in… just to see. Sure enough, the owner was there, working on a couple of late-night projects, beating the heat. When I explained my predicament, he reached under the counter and produced a gas cap (exactly like the one pictured). He took it out to my car, put it on, and the threads were perfect. It even fit inside the little door. I asked him how much he wanted for it, and he smiled and said, “Keep it.” To which, Julia exclaimed, “Herbert!”
For reasons that really don’t matter in this context, I’ve been an anxious person for most of my life. As a recovering anxiety case who is well versed in yoga and meditation (i.e., I know better), I can say with some authority that when I release myself to the current, and I trust that things will be okay, amazingly enough, things are always okay. They might not be exactly how my brain decided they should be, but things are okay nonetheless.
I was reminded of this idea of release last week when I thought, “We need to get a handle on our finances… no… that’s not right… we already know what to do, and we can totally do this!” And the answer appeared that evening, and we simplified our financies significantly in the last week.
I was reminded again when I thought, “There are better ways to deal with my layers of responsibility other than panic, anxiety and going-unto-collapse. Mindfulness is helping, but there’s more out there… other people have walked this walk with success.” And that’s when Lova from Why Not 3 contacted me on Instagram.
And now, thanks to the Why Not 3 Work/Life Balance Challenge, I’ve been reminded of the importance of intention setting and visualization.
Visualization is the act of putting ideas — or intentions — into the current of universal energy. By deliberately visualizing and vocalizing intentions, we give a message to both ourselves and to the Universe that says this is the direction I’m headed.
That’s not to say you can just wish for something and have it come true (though that does happen occasionally). Even in the two cases above, I had to do some creative rearranging of accounts to get a handle on my finances, and I had to respond to Lova, take him up on his challenge, and face some deficiencies within myself to put myself back on my path.
Visualization is very much like charting a course over the ocean. You can decide that you want to arrive in a certain port — and then you have to do the work to make the ship travel in that direction. But, while it’s true that you’re affecting the outcome by your own hand, there is a certain amount of surrender that goes into the journey. Your ship may encounter storms, swells or rocks. What doesn’t help is worrying about what could go wrong. You see yourself arriving at your port, safely and swiftly, and then you enjoy the journey — whatever may happen along the way! You handle setbacks with grace, you learn from mishaps and mistakes, and you keep your eye on that star that’s guiding you to port.
So, with this idea in mind, I’ve created the Vision Board you see here from a handful of pictures and phrases. This image is a visual representation of my port. It’s where I want to land, though I know that even this is not my end destination. I’m putting this vision into the current of universal energy, and I’m letting go of the worries and what-ifs. I’m focusing on what success will look like, and I’m putting my energy toward the manifestation of my vision.
Like Lova says in the Why Not 3 Challenge creed, “Today, I’m creative a life that I love.” It starts with these images–these ideas. Each day is another day spent on my course. Each day, I’m one step closer to my goals.