Driving to the store I drove past two very little fawns playing in a yard. Spotted, about a foot tall and cute as buttons but alone, I couldn’t help but wonder where their mom was. I watched in horror in my rear-view mirror as one of them darted right across the same road I just blew down. The other followed quickly. Thankfully, the only car in the immediate vicinity was the one I was driving but the guy jogging, the lady walking her dog and the lady standing out in her yard collectively exhaled as the little guys made it safely to the other side of the road. Holy cow, I thought. So adorable yet so precariously placed. I flipped a u-ee and headed back.
I stopped in the middle of the road and watched the two fawns interact. They weren’t playing like I was hoping but rather standing there, scratching themselves and basically just looking around. I anthropomorphicized that they were scared and lost and searching the bushes for their mom. As I sat there intentionally blocking traffic for 10 minutes I worked out the details of a plan to rescue them from the awful horror I presupposed they were living.
Just then, the jogging guy poked his head by my passenger side window, being careful not to startle me (thankfully.)
Him: “You see those little deer?”
Me: “Yeah, darn cute.”
Him: “I don’t see their mom anywhere.”
Him: “That seems a little weird. I don’t think their mom would get that far away from them.”
Me: “I agree. But I’m not sure what we could do to help. We certainly can’t catch them.”
Him: “Yeah, I guess you are right.”
He stood there for a second, gawking at the darling creatures, like the dog lady and the yard lady and me. Then he jogged off.
I sat there for another good five minutes right in the middle of the road interfering with traffic while I watch the fawns do pretty much nothing. I looked around a few times to see if somehow I could magically find the mom and, thus, alleviate my concern about their safety (nope.)
Then it hit me. Instead of basking in the moment of now and enjoying the remarkably unusual sight of two beautiful baby fawns chillin’, I was completely robbing myself by worrying about a problem I had imagined and could not solve. Worse, I was reaching into the future to create a terrible outcome (car + baby deer = boo sad) when clearly they were just fine right now. I was creating the worst case scenario (mom is gone), projecting the worse case future scenario (car + baby deer) and then spending mental energy trying to solve an unsolvable problem (Chris chasing two baby deer = funny.) Hahah! That’s just nuts!
Smiling and relieved of all this fake pressure I had put on myself, I drove off (but still flashed my lights at every oncoming car.)
How many times a day does this happen? It’s so natural, at least for me, to create in my head a completely fictional worst case scenario and then make it terrible by borrowing future troubles that don’t exist. Wow. What a huge weight that I suddenly created and dropped on my shoulders that arguably was completely made up by… me.
When Maggie was first in the hospital, it was just a terrible time. Back then, I didn’t have this… let’s call it Clarity, for lack of a better phrase. So I kept dropping weight upon weight upon weight onto my shoulders until one night I cracked. Ever since then, odd events pop up that remind me that I can let go of things that may not actually exist and that may not actually happen (like tonight.) (All this talk of events that don’t exist and that might not happen sound insane… yet it happens all the time!)
That long night in the hospital I had rained down the reality that she was going to die then and there, maybe even that night and I’d never have another moment to spend with her to, among other things, tell her how much she meant to me.
Silly me. Despite my wildly imaginative incarnation of premature bleak endings, we had 848 wonderful days together after that night. All that weight (and subsequent suffering) I voluntarily magic-ed from my fear and placed upon my own shoulders needlessly and somewhat masochistically. I’m glad now that I’ve learned though these last few years two new magic powers: the power to dispel borrowed future troubles (to live in the right here, right now) and the clarity to see what is happening without assuming. I am lucky. Truly lucky. In fact, I’m the luckiest guy in the world.
I’m really, really happy I saw those two beautiful baby deer. They were so cute. I wish you could have seen them. You would have smiled.