Engine Won’t Start? Meditate, Don’t Panic

Car won’t start.


First time I was lucky. It broke down right after the Gulf Station mechanic had pumped a tank full of gas. Tried the battery. Would not turn over. Left car and walked home which, fortunately, was less than four blocks away.

It was a loose wire, the trusted mechanic told me later. There was no charge, and it made my day, particularly, since it was the second time John the mechanic checked out one of  our vehicles with no charge. See: A Good Life Grows with Unforseen Charges.

But, now I sit in the parking lot of NorthTowne Plaza, about four or five miles outside my Conshohocken, PA, home. Just made purchases at a discount store called ALDI, run by an outfit stationed in Germany. Nice lot, even though 15-foot high snow banks block some pathways here. Plows pushed lots of the snow from this Winter of 2010 into mounds that froze over with not much relief from the sun in the forecast for today or the next one.

Do I worry? No. I see it as an opportunity to meditate.

That’s right, folks. Felt no panic, no concern that I’d be stuck  for who knew how long waiting for emergency service from AAA. I called them about two months ago and by the time I had walked to a business office to use the phone and made it back to the disabled car, the engine turned over. I drove away and cancelled the service call when I got home.

Car broke down outside IKEA in Conshohocken once. Took some deep breaths, popped open the hood, as if I knew what I was doing, and “jiggled” some wires, banging different metal parts, hoping it would “jar” something loose and get it started again. Remember when your dad or brother used to hit the old television set “upside its head” and the TV started to work again. Like magic?

Only I never got the touch, and it showed with my car. Back and forth I went, in and out of the car from sitting behind the wheel and turning the key, testing the internal fortitude of the vehicle, to smacking the battery and other “whatchumacallits.”

Waited a long 20 to 25 minutes until the engine mysteriously turned over as if there was no problem at all. I learned from that experience.

And so, here I sit, using an old meditation technique. Counting slowly from one to twenty. I focus on each number, dragging out the sound to myself, letting my breath be the anchor to pull my attention away from any wayward thought. I get relaxed by number 6, and enter a smooth flow by 12 or 13. By 20, I am relaxed. No anxious thoughts. No concerns of chores still needed to be completed or past problems  unresolved.

I try the engine. No go. But, now I have opened my eyes. I see a white haired woman, possibly  in her mid-70s, failing to take notice of a van coming really close to where she absent-mindedly is standing. I beep my horn twice. It leads me to write a post on the failure of a car horn to warn someone of pending danger. See: Tooting own horn doesn’t work nowadays.

I close my eyes and meditate some more, listening to the cars drive by, car doors gently closing, and one guy singing a song to himself unmindful of me sitting alone in my vehicle the past 20 minutes.

I turn the key. Car starts. I smile. The rest is history. Or at least, fodder for another post on ordinary life.

4 comments on “Engine Won’t Start? Meditate, Don’t Panic

  1. JhanaJian says:

    You need a new car, Michael.


  2. kim says:

    What a lovely tribute to the positive effects of meditation! 🙂


    • contoveros says:

      My friend, Oleg, told me it was a miracle.

      I believe if one looks hard enough, you could find ’em in our daily life.

      Miracles, that is. Not troubles with the car engine.

      michael j.


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