A Pretty Good Deal

Hello Dear Friends,

Today I was meeting with my friendly used-car dealer, since my beloved Honda, Hi-Ho Silver, is beginning to fail. She’s twelve years old, and has gotten me through some of the toughest times of my life. After my house burned down, she held everything I owned. She took me cross-country to New York and Washington State and points between. She got me There and Back Again.

And now it’s time to move on. When you lose everything, sometimes you get a little too attached to the few things you have left. An old mug, a plastic tray – these things take on so much significance. “This old t-shirt,” I’d sometimes think, “is so precious because it’s from ‘before,’ from my old life, from before the fire.” But really, it’s just an old t-shirt. So even though it’s a bit heart wrenching, it’s time to give up Hi-Ho Silver.

As we sat in the dealership waiting for paperwork to go through, I realized I didn’t have Silver’s title. It burned up along with all my other records; another thing that slipped through the cracks amidst the overwhelming myriad of details that follow a disaster. We called the DMV about getting another one, then sat looking at each other while we waited for my loan to be approved.

“So,” he said, filling time with small talk, “Your house burned down. That’s gotta be tough.” “Yes,” I said, “But there was a lot of good that came from it. In fact, I recently did a TED talk about all the good things that happened.” He frowned at me, “What possible good could come from such a terrible experience?” Before I could answer, my e-mail pinged, and I instinctively looked down and read the new message. I looked up at the dealer and said, “Let me read this to you, and I think you’ll understand.” Here are the exact words that were in front of me;

Dearest Andi,
I read your blog and emails as part of my psychology class while visiting California this week for my sister’s funeral service.  I can sincerely empathize with your feeling of sorrow and loss.  Reading your experiences of loss and the comments from friends brought tears to my eyes as I feel the agonizing emotional pain in the inner depths of my being.  May you find peace and strength through the kind and encouraging words of friends and strangers alike.  God bless you and keep you strong and steadfast as you move forward in life.  We love you.  Ernie and Family.

The dealer asked, “Is that from a friend?” “No,” I said, “This was written to me by a total stranger.” “And someone in California assigned your blog to a psychology class?” he asked. “Yes, I guess so,” I said, “and it sounds like it’s helping him deal with his own grief.” The used-car dealer, probably a bit cynical by profession, gave me a huge grin. “That is really kinda cool,” he said. I smiled back. “It is indeed,” I said. “It is indeed.”

We all get cynical from time to time – caught up in bad news, in the stories of terrible  people doing terrible things, in the little hurtful dramas and heartbreaks that comprise our daily  life. Sometimes we lose faith in humanity, sometimes we simply think no one cares.  Then out of the blue, a stranger says, “We love you.” Out of the blue, someone says, “You helped me,” and you forget your own loss, your own pain. For a moment, you feel like you’re gently holding the soft, sweet thread of the great web that holds all of us together. You feel your deepest heart, your true humanity. Lose your house – regain your faith in humanity. I’d say that’s a pretty good deal.

On Monday I pick up my new car. It’s a beautiful blue-green; the color of the Colorado summer sky, the color of the deep blue sea.  I’ll give her a name, and oh, the places we’ll go…

Wishing You Sweet Dreams, Deep Faith, and Happy Travels,


Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 9.39.35 PM

On Stage at TEDx.

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19 Responses to A Pretty Good Deal

  1. Beautifully said. Lost every material thing but found your humanity. You have to already have a good spirit for that to happen. I’m glad you’ve been able to communicate that message and be heard by people who can be touched by it. Wonderful post!

    • Andi says:

      Thank you Karen, for reading and supporting the blog and the message,and for your kind words. Take good care.

  2. Greg Wright says:

    Thanks, Andi – again and yet again – for opening my eyes to the larger reality! I just felt the soft, sweet vibration of my own thread of the great web that holds all of us together! Just what I needed with my morning coffee!

  3. Jean Thompson says:

    Andi, I’ve followed your journey from the beginning. I had just made a temporary move from Colorado to Maryland two weeks before the fire. I missed the community shock and then the coming together to help those affected. Yet, I could imagine and empathize because I’ve lived in the mountains, the city of Boulder and surrounding areas since 1985. When someone in BMW suggested that you start a blog and you did so, I’m sure you had no idea how many doors and windows would open, bringing in light, reassurance, assistance and support as you went through stages of grief and also found new reservoirs of strength and discovered you have amazing coping skills. During those first days, months, year and then to the two-year mark when your house was rebuilt and you were on home ground again, I imagine the journey felt jaggedy, often times full of fits and starts and frustrations. But as I followed your blog posts, the underlying feeling was “flow.” You lost your home (I’ll bet that’s still hard to hear and say – it’s emotional for me to write those words) but seems you were following a line, a strong thread, and not to get too corny – a recipe – and not only did you get the cake but also the icing. The icing being the sweet connections of so many people, near and far, who have been moved by your blog, interviews and TED talk. Bravo.

  4. Mary O'Conor Rosenfeld says:

    Very, very meaningful and beautiful, Andi. So glad to see that you are able to put in writing what so many of us experience at different times. Is Nellie still with you? I miss hearing about her. Blessings, Mary

    • Andi says:

      Nellie is her sassy self, thanks for asking! She will love hanging her head out the window of our new car on road trips. And – one of my CEO coaching clients mentioned yesterday he was from Ottowa, IL, and I asked if he knew Uncle Andrew, and he said, “Andrew O’Conor? My dad was an attorney and knew him well!” Such a small world! I told him about you and other family members who are here now – no degrees of separation! Hope all is well and that we’ll connect in person at some point! Lots of love, Andi

  5. Marian Thier says:

    How you’ve matured, not in years but in wisdom, over this period. And what a voice you’ve become for so many who don’t have your ability to dig deep and share both personal and universal awakenings.

  6. Andi – You’ve done it again. You’ve written another moving, insightful post about what is not, on the surface, an unusual experience — acknowledging that an old faithful vehicle is ready to be replaced. But your perspective as a “fire person” who at one point had nothing that would not fit into that car made it another uncommon common experience for you. And you’ve described it so well.

    • Andi says:

      Aw, thanks Claire. Coming from a writer of your caliber, that is praise indeed. Thank you for your loyal readership! You’re actually going to be the very first person to see my new car :-)

  7. Sue Lion says:

    Andi, not only did you change your life, you continue to help others change their lives, too, even after all this time. Thank you!

  8. Gail Storey says:

    Andi, I appreciate you so much and how you keep sharing your wisdom and gratitude with us! Thank you, dear one.

  9. Leslie says:

    Beautiful Andi, just Beautiful!

  10. I know that you and Hi-Ho Silver II will continue to travel about spreading joy!

  11. Louella Christy Komuves says:

    Thank you for sharing your story of twice turning pain into positive action toward even greater happiness in your life. Your 80-yr-old wise mother was so correct.

    How it saddens my heart that too often we (women??) try to “fix” things for others (children through adults) so they don’t have to deal with painful situations. Yet in my 73 years, it has often been through a crisis that I have learned the most! But believing that one is never too old to learn, I rejoice about life and send along to you continued peace and contentment day by day.

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