When I saw the gas pump symbol light up on my car’s dashboard, I freaked out. I was in the middle of a long drive with my wife, on an unfamiliar stretch of freeway. The nearest gas station was approximately 10 miles away according to Google Maps.
I wouldn’t make it. I’d leave us stranded in the cold, dark night, on the freeway shoulder. And a tow truck would take forever to arrive.
About three quarters of the way into my freak out, my wife calmly stated, “Mitchell, it’s not empty. There’s still enough gas in the tank for us to make it to that station. The light is simply a warning sign. Relax.”
And so it was. And she was right.
I’ve engaged in similar bouts of catastrophic thinking periodically throughout my life. I was done. Finished. There was nothing else I could do.
But there always was, if I only I would step back. Observe the situation with calm, cool detachment. Relax (even if just a bit).
Inevitably, I’d identify a next step. Sometimes it would seem insignificant, other times not so much. Regardless, the effort kickstarted the project. I was able to chart a path to completion.
I had something left—sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little. I hadn’t reached a dead end after all. I could access an untapped pocket of energy and inspiration. It lay there, waiting for me to summon it.
Now I know there’s always something left in my gas tank—and in my car’s as well.