Yesterday for what I believe to be the first time in my life I left home without my wallet. Halfway to work I began to inventory what I had taken with me and the wallet didn't make it to the list. I knew exactly where I'd left it -- on the third shelf down from the top of the living room bookcase. That's what happens, I told myself, when we make changes in our routines. Normally the wallet is on my bedside table along with everything else I take to work with me. Why I failed to keep that routine is not my point in this particular writing, though.
Here's the point.
The moment I realized that I'd forgotten my wallet my mind began racing through possible and doubtless predictable catastrophes. It was raining. What if I had car trouble (Jeep trouble to be specific). How would I contact the auto club without my membership card? Even though I was leaving work at noon, what if I got hungry? Where would I buy food. Wait. Go back to car trouble. What if it wasn't car trouble? What if it was a car wreck in which I was injured? My health insurance information was in my wallet was wasn't with me. And forget the health insurance information, how would the paramedics even know my identity because, of course, I had no identification. And what if I got pulled over and asked to show my license to drive and my proof of insurance? And what if that? And what if this? And what if and what if and what if????
I soon realized that I was so completely absorbed in my catastrophic thinking that I was driving in the future and paying no attention to the present which is where at least my vehicle was speeding east on the 210 freeway. If I continued driving into the future it was very likely that I would create all of the crisis scenarios I feared.
With effort I abandoned the future and forced myself to reclaim the present -- checking and maintaining my speed within the legal limit, keeping both hands on the steering wheel instead of waving them in despair, and ignoring my ringing cell phone.
By the time I arrived at work I got out of the old Jeep with both feet planted firmly on the solid ground of the present. It's the best place to be, anyway.