i love to collect little quotes. sometimes i find them in fortune cookies. or on my yogi green tea bags. books i am reading. posters. signs. and of course from oprah. i love oprah. what she stands for. and it is not that i watched her show all that much. of course over the years i watched at different times. but this last year she filmed her behind-the-scenes for her last season. a glimpse of what really goes on. who she really is. or at least as much as can be gleamed from watching through the lens of a tv camera. she is the real deal. wanting to promote good. wanting everyone to be the best version of himself or herself.
one thing oprah says. or it could be dr. phil. when you know better, you do better. that one always stuck with me. but knowing better, really KNOWING better, is a whole different thing than imagining better or believing better or hoping better. there are plenty of things that i have done that i could do better. deep down i had an inkling or an alarm bell that it was not the right thing. but i did it anyway. there are endless reasons for the choices i have made. but i am not that interested in looking back at why. i don’t judge myself for the steps i have taken. i’m not perfect. i don’t expect perfection. judgment and unrealistic standards are crippling. stagnating. overbearing. i am interested in now. in deciding who i want to be and being it. in knowing what i need in a marriage. a friendship. from myself. i say it at soulcycle: be the friend you need. be the lover you long for. put it out there and it will come back to you. decide who you want to be and be it.
sometimes knowledge comes from a fender bender.
this was the last week my kids were in the city this summer. turns out the pull of the beach. really the pull of their friends who had finally moved out to fire island for the summer. well that pull was strong and my kids only stayed in the city for about 24 hours. but we were all heading back from bay shore on tuesday. orthodontist appointments and final packing of their things for the summer. my classes at soulcycle. driving. traffic. backseat bickering. missed turn. different route. finding our way. traffic. distraction. bang. and i bumped into the car in front of me. it wasn’t just a tap. but it wasn’t a crash. no damage. no one hurt. one tiny scratch on her bumper. nothing on mine. and we pull over in a parking lot to talk.
the girl i hit was in college. a little shaken up. i get it. we talked and i apologized. and we got good with each other pretty quickly. focused on the protection. the lack of damage to the car. my word that if she wanted to touch up the scratch, whatever, i would pay for it. through insurance or not. her choice. and she knew i would. just to be clear, and in this day of technology, i made a video on her phone. basically said my name and it was my fault and everyone in my car was ok and if she wanted to fix the little scratch on her bumper i would pay for it. like i said, we were good with each other. but not so much her dad. she had called him and he had a whole different view.
the details of the next four hours are not really worth focusing on. i had driven away. back towards the city. with my mom and my kids and my dogs. but her dad called the police. tried to threaten me with hit and run. cops didn’t see it that way. but if he wanted to fill out a report that day i had to come back. turn around. stand still traffic now the other way. long day. he might have had people treat him badly in life. i don’t know. but it was no fun and it took a long time. took a lot of focus and energy to stay true to myself. not let his energy dictate my behavior. my emotions. there were tears. and when it came right down to it in the end, she and i got good with each other again. no report was filed. like i said, there really was no damage. and if she wants to paint over the scratch, i will pay for it. she knows how to find me. and just barely – 5 hours later – i made it to union square to teach my class.
but here’s the thing. it was my fault. exclusively mine. and the reason it happened is that i was texting when i hit her. i do that all the time. i am aware of the dangers of texting and driving. deep down i have that inkling or alarm bell. i have heard the stories. i have friends who say don’t do that. i believe it is the wrong thing to do. but i did it anyway. somehow i thought i was just good at it. somehow i gave myself an out. texting and driving not a good idea, but i get to get away with it. and then i had that fender bender. and my kids hated seeing that dad be mean to me. they were so sweet. the boys eyeing him and protecting me. my daughter just a rock of support. it was hard for them. but i told them how i saw it. it doesn’t matter how that guy acted. that’s his life. his choices. his journey. and i think he knew a little that he got off track. i’m sure someone did wrong by him in his life.
but i told my kids, the only thing that mattered to me was that i learned a big lesson. a hard lesson for me to learn. it was my fault. i was texting while i was driving. and if i had gotten off easy. if it had only taken 10 minutes, i probably would have let it slide that the reason i bumped into her was because i was looking at my phone. that i felt so lucky to have learned my lesson from a little inconvenience with a jerk on long island. some people have to learn that lesson because they actually hurt someone. or themselves. i could have hurt that girl, or myself, or my mom, my kids. i am profoundly aware of how fortunate i am to have learned my lesson the way i learned it. profoundly. and my kids watched me learn that lesson. and they know that i won’t text and drive any more.
now i know better. now i will do better.
knowledge is a personal thing. sometimes it comes with a whisper. sometimes a shout. sometimes a fender bender. but oprah is right. once we know better, we do better. and i don’t look back and judge myself. i’m not perfect. i don’t expect perfection. life is a journey and i am taking it one step at a time. i am meditating for 20 minutes twice a day. i am making healthier choices for my body. i soulcycle. cardio is life. and i am a beach bum. and today is a new day. a new month. and i am hitting the road and heading back to fire island. and i will leave my phone in my bag.