Paved with Good Intentions

November 14, 2017 - 4 minutes read

My red Tesla is the best car I’ve ever owned.  It accelerates quickly, plays the music I love, and drives itself on the freeway so I can arrive at my destination fresh, rather than worn-out.

My Tesla and I have a deal.  It carries me along the road, GPS as a guide, bathing me in comfort and music.  And every evening I plug in its electric cord to supply the charge it needs to operate the following day.  That’s the deal.  The Tesla does its part and I do mine.

One recent evening, despite my best intentions, I failed to do my part. The following morning my Tesla was not fully charged when I began a drive from Studio City to Reno.  I knew there was a Tesla charging station along the way and assumed I’d be fine, but as I drove along a highway north of Los Angeles a steep incline drained the power more quickly than I had anticipated. Before I reached the summit just three miles of electricity were left.

I stopped at a gas station with an electric charger.  But it was not a Tesla charger, and the attendant couldn’t help me.  She said I was only two miles from the top and once there I could coast twenty miles to the Tesla charger on the other side.  She noted that I still had three miles of electricity, and wished me luck.

I don’t normally sweat, but for those last two miles I did.  I felt like I was on the road to H*** but instead of the needed energy the road was paved with nothing but my good intentions.  I drove slowly, and apologized to the heavens for my neglect.  My apologies didn’t help.  Then I pleaded for just enough juice to reach the summit. That didn’t help either.  With just five hundred feet to go my beloved Tesla quit.  Out of energy, it stopped, without even warning me to pull off the road.

I let my Tesla roll backward, hoping it wouldn’t be hit by oncoming traffic, and parked it on the shoulder.

I closed my eyes and slumped against the steering wheel, then got out of the car and cursed.  After that, I cried.  Then I thought of all of my wonderful excuses for not fully charging my car the evening before.  Nonetheless, my Tesla rested where it had stopped, unmoved, unmoving, on the side of the road while I waited for a service truck to arrive.

Late that evening I arrived in Reno, tired, angry, and ashamed.  I had narrowly avoided two accidents along the way because I failed to pay proper attention to my driving.

This is not just the story of a doomed driving trip.  It’s a parable for every human life.  Good intentions are great.  They help us feel good, make us smile, and show a generous spirit springing from a reservoir of kindness.

But good intentions, unaccompanied by actions, pave the road to emotional wounds to our family, our friends, and ourselves. Good intentions, without good actions, create toxic bonds of blame and a world littered with strained or ruined relationships.

Please, please be as kind in both your words and deeds as you are in your mind and heart. Or you might find yourself alone and stranded by the side of the road, many miles from where you intended to be.

Alan

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