It was 10:30 at night and I had just finished giving a squash lesson. The fuel in the car was critically low, so rather than jumping straight onto the freeway, heading back home, I asked a local restaurant guy for the nearest petrol station.
Since it was in Turkish, I vaguely understood to drive down this road, first left, all the way to the end and right, then right again.
Or so I thought.
I ended up getting forced onto the freeway heading in the opposite direction to home – over the bridge to the other side of the bay.
The impending doom of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with an empty tank was compounded by the fact that my phone credit had run out earlier in the day, so I had no way of calling, SMSing or WhatsApping anyone for help.
Then came an exit.
With the flow of moving traffic I had a decision to make:
Should I take the exit and try to turn back?
Or should I keep coasting, hoping to come to a petrol station?
But there was deeper, more pressing question:
How did I get to this situation?
I have a full-time job so money shouldn’t be an issue. Moments ago, I was just in the warmth of the Hilton Hotel gym. I just asked a guy where the nearest petrol station is.
“You can’t miss it,” possibly being the nail in the coffin.
Anyway, I took the exit.
After briefly beeping the horn and shouting at a bus driver who returned the favour, I was heading back to where I’d come from.
The needle was on the ‘E’ line of the fuel gauge now. Cutting it close.
Where was this return trip taking me exactly?
Past a residential area, under a tunnel, and back onto the freeway I would normally have taken.
Now I knew the closest petrol station on the freeway back home was almost definitely too far to make. So I took another exit close to where my wife’s brother lives. I suspected there was a petrol station along that road… and I was right.
I pulled in with how little petrol left, I don’t know.
A big breath and a sigh of relief.
The whole episode of being on the brink of getting lost in the middle of nowhere, with no foreseeable recourse, was a kind of metaphor for my life in the recent 6 months or so:
- Working a full-time job as a kindergarten teacher, teaching English as a foreign language (a moment-to-moment attention/energy drainer)
- Giving squash lessons in the evening for a few hours, two times a week
- Writing a book
- Starting a website (not this one) that, now, I wasn’t sure was worth pursuing
- Feeling like I am somewhat failing to live up to my relatively new role as husband, and friend to my wife’s daughter
Instead of continuing to push forward, running on empty, I have decided to take a step back.
With patience and an eye on the long-term, this blog is my step back.
A big breath at home is what brings me peace and fulfillment. There is much to explore on this topic, and that’s what I plan to do.
Following the recommendation of Seth Godin, I will be writing on this blog every day. Might just be a few sentences. Might be a mini-essay. But I’ll be here every day.
I hope you can drop by occasionally.