Saturday, April 9, 2011

Running On Empty? Your Choice?

“Running out of gas is a conscious decision.”
~ Barbara Rich, yoga teacher, Groton, MA

 By Christine Clark

Procrastination has my car's gas gauge running near empty these days. As gas prices edge ever higher, I wait, hoping they will go down. Of course, the opposite has been true and the numbers flip toward $4.00 a gallon. I work at home, so a tank usually lasts a week. I broke my gas budget last weekend by traveling an extra 240 miles, so I bought only a few gallons on Tuesday for $3.539999. By Friday, regular was $3.69999 at the least-expensive station in Sebastian, Florida, where I buy gas. Still, I hesitate to fill up.
I know that hesitation can get me into trouble. Thursday morning at 4:20, my sister sleep-dialed me. She didn’t answer my return calls for about 10 minutes because she was asleep. Wide-awake and frantic, my imagination went into overdrive wondering what emergency made her call at that time. I imagined I would have to drive to her house in Ft. Lauderdale in the next hour. And what was my biggest concern? I would first have to buy gas because I didn’t have enough to get there.
In the last two days, as I’ve thought about my near-empty gas tank, my yoga teacher’s saying came to mind: “Running out of gas is a conscious decision.” It is a conscious decision, because I (and many others) make the decision to not buy gas. When I lived in Massachusetts, I had a personal rule about when to buy gas: Emerson Hospital in Concord, MA, was the closest large hospital to my home, yet it was a 40-minute drive. If my car didn’t have enough gas to get there, I filled up before going home. When I had to take my daughter to Emerson one snowy evening, the last thing I needed was any worry about having enough gas to get there. I had obeyed my own rule, so all I had to do was get in my snow-worthy Subaru Forester and drive. My decision to not run out of gas spared me extra stress that night.
Gas prices may or may not go down over the next few months. I hope they do because the high cost of driving is a hardship for many people. I don’t drive much; so altering my driving habits won’t help my gas budget in the meantime. Regardless of the per-gallon price, however, I have made a Sebastian rule about my gas-tank level. Close family members live two hours north of me and two hours south of me. I won’t park in my driveway unless I have enough gas to get to either city. I hope an emergency never requires an anxious drive north or south, but if it does, I will have plenty of gas to get there.

Where might you need to drive in the middle of the night or in case of an emergency? How much gas would it take you to get there? Can you make a commitment to have that much in your tank at all times?

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