I hate to stop and fill up my car with gas. I always have. Even when I was a teenager and just learning to drive, I hated it.
Of course, back then I was never able to completely fill it up. I had to use the a couple of dollars here, a couple of dollars there method of gassing up because I never had enough money at one time to pay for a full tank of gas. Luckily, I only ran out of gas a few times. I knew exactly how far I could go as I carefully kept a check on the little red arrow of the gas gauge.
Even now when I can fill my cars gas tank all the way up, I still hate to do it. I just dont want to take the time to actually stop and go through the process at the gas pump. It seems like a waste of time to me.
In fact, a friend of mine will not go on even a short trip with me until she glances over at the gas gauge. I know she doesnt notice, but I see the concern clearly plastered across her face. It may have something to do with us coming back from Hawkinsville together on just the vapors of gas left swirling around in the empty tank. Concern and a little bit of panic appeared on my face that day as we desperately searched for a gas station around every curve in the road, silently praying all the way to Warner Robins where the first gas station that was open appeared.
Then there is my cell phone and the fact that it has to be charged. I will sometimes be texting someone when a bright red, almost scary box appears on the screen telling me I have a low battery. Under it, there is a place to choose dismiss, which I always do, returning straight back to my typing.
I was trying to send some photos the other day and, for the life of me, I couldnt figure out why they wouldnt go. I tried and tried to send them, becoming more frustrated every time Id touch send. Finally, my phones screen went totally black.
Whats wrong with this phone? I asked my wife with a sense of urgency in my voice. Debra took it from my hand and told me that my phones battery was dead and there wasnt enough battery to send the photos.
It couldnt be that, I replied, immediately plugging the phone into a nearby phone charger to prove my point. The screen remained blank. I ran to Debra and said, See, its not the battery. It wont even come on when its plugged into the charger!
Thats because when the battery is completely gone, it takes a few minutes to even begin the process of recharging, she replied with a touch of know-it-all in her voice. I thought Id killed it, but soon I heard a little beep and glanced over to see a battery shape finally appear with the tiniest sliver of red to indicate how much power was starting to transfer to the battery.
I knew it had a long way to go to turn green and completely fill up the battery-shaped icon, but at least it was slowly charging.
At some time or another, we all will run out of fuel or need our personal batteries recharged to continue on our path in life. Its just a fact. To be our most productive and best selves, we have to sometimes stop and allow our bodies, minds and spirits the opportunity to refresh, replenish and revive. Otherwise, we will run out of steam, become sluggish and lose our focus.
I always look at the passage from one year into another as a perfect time to recharge my own batteries. Not just to put a couple of dollars of fuel into my tank -- because it will not get me very far -- but to pause and fill my inner self all the way up. Then I know Ill feel invigorated and inspired to continue my life and goals, tackling any obstacles that pop up in my path.
The first couple of weeks of January, I try to do this. Yes, I have to continue with my busy schedule just as all of us do, but I set aside some time for myself to meditate. And by doing so, Im able to look a new year straight in the face and say, Im ready!
But, as we all know, we cant refuel just one time a year. Just like with anything, we have to constantly remember to replenish what has been used up.
The other day, I had a less mechanical example of this process present itself. I passed a flowering plant in our home that, just the day before, had been full of life, standing tall and proud and looking beautiful. As I glanced at it now, it was completely wilted and looked lifeless.
I was mad at myself that I hadnt watered it and immediately ran to the kitchen sink to do so. As the water flowed over its leaves and into the dry dirt surrounding its roots, I wasnt optimistic about it returning to its original state. I left it sitting in the sink to drain and went about my business.
Later that day, I walked past and saw it had slowly but surely used the water to lift its leaves and blooms to their original beauty.
All around us there are things we have to care for -- things we have to refresh, revive and recharge. We are no different! Now, to make sure my phone is fully charged, I plug it in the last thing before I go to bed. It reminds me that sleep also refreshes us to prepare for another day.
But sometimes it takes more than sleep. It takes a personal rededication to taking care of ourselves to get the most out of life. None of us can survive without constantly recharging our hearts, minds, bodies and souls. Dont forget to do it today!
More with Mark:
The Old City Flower Festival, held Jan. 18-25 at Christ Church on Walnut Street in downtown Macon, features floral arrangements from altar guilds of 14 of the oldest churches in downtown Macon. View it from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 2-4 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free. Call 745-0427 for details.
Check out Marks website, www.markballard.com, for current projects, recipes and lots of other fun stuff.
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Mark Ballards column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; fax them to (478) 474-4930; call (478) 757-6877; e-mail to email@example.com; or become a subscriber to Marks Facebook page.