I really enjoyed watching the summer Olympics this year, although the realization of how hard the participants worked to get there had me feeling a bit like a couch potato. At least I was inspired to get off my tush and go for a run here and there during those two weeks. Or maybe “shamed” is the more correct term. Whatever, it worked.
Anyway, I couldn’t help speculating about the many Olympians who did not win a medal. Because they generally lost by such a small margin, I wondered if any of them thought to themselves, “I almost won!”
This had me remembering a time when my son and I had watched as a taxi just missed hitting my husband, who was walking in front of us as we crossed a busy New York City street. Nolan had looked up at me with eyes as big as saucers.
“Daddy almost got hit by a car!” he exclaimed.
I shouted, “I know! He shouldn’t have been looking down at his phone!”
Fear had added volume to my voice and an urgency to teach Nolan a lesson on safety. Obviously texting and walking could be as dangerous as texting and driving.
I had nearly forgotten all about the incident when Nolan brought it up again at dinner that night.
“I can’t believe Dad almost got hit by a car today!” he exclaimed, in between noisily sucking the last of his Shirley Temple out of a straw.
I carelessly answered, “Yes, that was scary, wasn’t it?”
Nolan looked thoughtful for a moment. Then he asked me for a drink refill, with extra cherries this time.
He brought it up a third time, as I was tucking him into bed that night. “Mom, why did Daddy almost get hit by a taxi?”
I recognized that there was something big going on here. Nolan was having a hard time processing what had happened. He was storing this experience away and I didn’t like where it was going. Would he be afraid to cross a street from now on? Would he worry that something bad was going to happen to one of his parents?
I will forever be grateful to the universe for quickly supplying me with just the right response.
I said, “There is no such thing as almost, Nolan.”
He was confused. “What do you mean?” he asked. “Daddy did almost get hit by a car!”
I said, “I understand that. Getting hit by a car was a possibility. It could have happened. But the truth is, he did not get hit by a car. That’s what really happened. Almost is not real. He either did or he didn’t. And he didn’t.”
Nolan contemplated that for a moment. Obviously it was enough to soothe my son’s soul because he snuggled into his blankets and didn’t bring it up again. Even when we went back to the city the next year, he didn’t bring it up.
I say “there is no such thing as almost” all the time now, especially to myself. Whenever I feel scared about something that could have happened, like when I think about how my daughter almost choked on a Hershey’s kiss, it calms me and prevents me from dwelling on it.
It not only works on releasing fear thoughts though. It also works with the things you feel have slipped away from you. As in, almost getting that dream job, almost getting in the quicker toll booth lane on the highway or almost winning the gold medal.
When we dwell on what we almost had but didn’t get, we suffer. We are essentially telling ourselves, “I lack that. I want it because I don’t have it. I am WITHOUT.” This isn’t a good place to be. It causes feelings of regret, longing, wanting to change “what is” or push away what’s here now.
If you can accept “what is,” it’s like giving yourself closure. There won’t be any looking back because you’ll be too busy looking ahead.
So, unless you really have an attachment to your story and don’t want to give it up, free yourself by dropping the word almost.
You’ll either do it or you won’t.
Written and shared with love by Denise Barry, Script for the Soul.
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Denise Barry is the award winning author of the childrens picture books, What Does the Tooth Fairy Do with Our Teeth? and Soap On A Rope. Shes currently working on a middle grade book titled Sweeney Mack and the Slurp and Burp Competition, so watch for that! She also writes a blog on her website called Raisin' Kids, for parents who want to raise kids who become adults, not adult children. Denise lives in Buffalo, New York with her husband and two kids. To learn more about her visit her website at www.denisebarry.net