Going The Extra Degree.

212 Degrees

I had a 3pm appointment with my hairdresser this past Saturday. Now, snow was in the forecast and the salon is about 40 minutes away. I felt a bit of anxiety about it since it gets dark early but against my better judgment, I decided to keep my appointment. I rationalized it with the fact that I couldn’t not go because there would be no other time to go until the new year; and having no roots is clearly a priority during the holiday season.

A few hours later, my hair is done and I am making my way home and I feel the anxiety creeping in again. I’m driving way below the speed limit on our narrow mountainous roads in the complete dark, with no cell phone service, nobody else on the road, and the snow is coming down hard. These things I’ve gotten used to, but as a girl who grew up in the city, sometimes I doubt myself and my ability to handle situations that may arise in what feels to me like the wilderness.

So fear creeps in and my Jeep begins sliding all over the road. As I start to regret my decision of not putting my winter tires on (again, all part of that city learning curve), my mind begins to also wander all over the place.

At this point, two profound thoughts come to me.

1) I am an awful night time-bad weather driver. I pray that anyone who gets stuck driving anywhere near me at times like this will practice patience and kindness with me. I also hope that I remember this lesson in years to come and allow myself to hibernate and to embrace the wintertime– and the darkness– when my body tells me to, instead of making excuses and forcing myself to do things because I feel obliged to do so.

2) Perhaps more importantly, we are all always one degree away from some thing. As my car was pulling to the right, I realized I could be one degree away from a ditch and have no idea. I could be one degree away from spilling over into the Au Sable River.

I remembered a short book I read a few years ago called 212 degrees.

The idea is this: At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And with steam, you can power a train.

The takeaway of course is this: One extra degree makes all the difference.

It was odd to me that this is where my mind went when I should have been focused on the road. I kept thinking one extra degree. It felt to me like I was only one degree away from a disaster.

But when I got home, luckily safe and sound, I questioned my own consciousness. Why, when in fear, did my mind go to disaster, and why did the extra degree resonate with me so much in that moment?

Because I had a choice to make. I could have pulled over and waited the storm out. I could have sped up and raced off before it got worse. I could take my hands off the wheel and closed my eyes. I could stay alert, cautious, and present, knowing that the road will only take me down what is meant for me.

I could have taken a wrong turn. I could have shut down. With the slight twitch of a wrist, I could have went off the road.

Instead…A little extra effort. A little extra care. A little extra attention. The one extra degree.
Go slow. Sing a happy song. Stay alert. The one extra degree.

I was thinking about it all wrong. Sure, I could have been one degree away from disaster, but I was also one degree away from safety, from success.

So in a world full of dichotomies, I found, that you can indeed pick your poison. What are you one degree away from?

Melodramatic as it may sound, are you…

One cheeseburger away from a heart attack OR one mile off from running your first 5K?

One meeting away from a melt down OR one meditation off from balance?

One rent payment away from being evicted OR one mortgage payment away from paid in full?

One affair away from a divorce OR one date night away from renewed passion?

One drink away from alcoholism OR one salad away from optimal health?

One business failure away from bankruptcy OR one big idea away from your greatest success.

212 degrees.

Show up 5 minutes early. Actively listen. Say thank you. The one extra degree.
Track your meals. Take your vitamins. Dress for the occasion. The one extra degree.
Reach out to an old friend. Write a love note. Make a weekly plan. The one extra degree.
A little extra effort. A little extra care. A little extra attention. The one extra degree.

As you reflect on 2021 and embark on a new year, I hope you will remember the extra degree in your 2022 intentions.
Now, happy holidays and go power a train.

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