A person sitting in the trunk of their car.

My Battery Died but I Lived

I sit, stranded.

I gnawed at my fingertips as I drove through the campsite. I had gotten there early, earlier than I figured necessary. Yet as I passed one occupied spot after another, I wondered if I was too late. My thumb clicked against my teeth as I pondered this. The clicking intensified with each filled spot. I didn’t want to go back, I wanted to camp. I turned a corner and with a sigh, saw two vacant spots. The only two left in the entire campground.

I made my choice. I pulled into one of the spots, turned off my car, and surveyed the surrounding area. This will do. I got out and started unloading. As I did, I noticed that the fire pit was close to my car. Not in a dangerous way, but rather in a way that if the wind changed my car would be in the direct line of smoke. It would be wise for me to close my vents so that the smoke wouldn’t drift inside my car.

I grabbed my keys. Climbing into the driver’s seat, I started the car. Or, at least I tried. The car wouldn’t start. In fact, nothing happened at all. Silence. That’s not good. Before panic set in though, a single thought crossed my mind: whatever’s going on, it’ll be alright. I got out of the car and continued to set up the campsite. I figured maybe it just needed time to rest – I had run a handful of errands before reaching the grounds. Maybe it was just tired. I knew that probably wasn’t a thing, but why not?

 

The Car Wouldn’t Start

Several minutes passed. My car had enough time to catch its breath. I once again climbed into the driver’s seat. Turning the key, I was now greeted – not with silence – but with the tck, tck, tck, tck, tck, tck of a car whose battery had died. How was that even possible? I literally had just driven for hours! Regardless, it was dead. And if I didn’t do something about it, I’d soon be dead too. Just kidding. Could you imagine if I was that intense?

An earlier version of myself would have panicked. He would have worried to no end. He would have ruined the trip with his fears. That version of me has long since been debugged though. Instead, I was calm. I was concerned, but unafraid. In fact, moments later I laid down on my cot and started reading a book. It will all work out. My friend will join me soon. He knows cars. I have no plans tomorrow. Time is on my side. If I need to get towed, I have AAA. If my car is broken, I have money to fix it. Everything will be fine. Let’s relax now and handle the problem in the morning.

My friend soon arrived. He confirmed that the battery was dead. He mentioned that it could also be a belt. I don’t wear belts. I find them cumbersome. He told me that the belt in the car could be the issue. I nodded. Why is the belt always the culprit of a broken car? Regardless, he explained, it’s something we can deal with in the morning.

My car didn’t smell of smoke when I climbed in the next day. We jumped the battery and the car turned on. It worked, but something was still off; the power steering didn’t work as it should. But it could still drive. We left. I headed to the dealership. Turns out the battery was the culprit after all.

The battery died, but I lived.

 

Two Things to Remember

Every lock has a key. Every problem has a solution. When faced with a trial, my instinct used to be panic. It used to be worry. But fear does not create solutions, it just speeds up your breath. It clouds your judgment. That won’t help you. What will though is two things:

  1. Knowing that you will be fine.
  2. Knowing that you will find a solution.

The first will calm you down. The second will help you navigate through. With the former, you consider the worst-case scenario without fear. For instance, you say that your car will never run again. Well, you’d still be able to go home. You’d need a new car, but everything else would continue as usual. There’d be some hassle involved, but it’d be manageable. With the latter, you calmly seek out ways to resolve the problem. For instance, you call a tow truck. You wait for your friend to arrive for help. You make the campsite your new home and live off the land.

In all those scenarios, you live. And, in most, you gain a story to tell.

You can panic when things go awry. You can worry. Or, you can not. You can be confident that everything will work out. Not because you’re optimistic, but because you’ve been through worse. You can let your prior experiences comfort you, remind you of the challenges you’ve faced. If you can make it through that, you can make it through this.

 

Moving Forward with a Dead Battery

I didn’t like that my battery died. And I admit there were times that night, sitting before the fire, that I worried about the fate of my car. But those moments were cut far shorter than ones in the past. Because I knew that everything would be just fine. So at your next trial, remind yourself of that same thing. Remember the hard times of your past. Recount the struggles and tribulations.

Recognize how small your current problem is in comparison.

It’s still a problem to be dealt with. But it’s not one that you need to overly stress about. It’s not one that you need to ruin your trip over. Instead, know that you will be fine. Then, find a solution. Do so with a clear head and a calm demeanor. Do so with a smile on your face and a laugh in your throat. A dead battery is nothing. Everything will be just fine. So go on with your trip. The car can be dealt with in the morning.