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The Accidental Gift

Excerpt from "Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment" by Ariel & Shya Kane

by Shya Kane

The night was dark, the roads unfamiliar, and we were darn tired when we pulled into a small fishing village one Halloween. It was the beginning of a short vacation, and an adventure that was to teach us a few lessons, specifically about towing a boat, and in general, about life.

Ariel and I had loaded our 22-foot boat on the trailer, hitched it to our Chevy Suburban and set out, maps in hand, on the 12-hour drive to Harker’s Island, North Carolina. I must admit, it was a little daunting to be hauling three tons of fiberglass and engine, especially when we reached a traffic light or had to make any kind of sudden stop. Our momentum and the weight of the boat would continue to push us forward even after we applied the brakes. I had become accustomed to anticipating and compensating for the load, but there were times when the nose of our SUV encroached on an intersection more than we would have liked.

The trip was long and tiring, and when we finally reached our destination, night had fallen. We had to look for the rental house with only a vague idea of how the neighborhood was laid out. Ariel spotted our vacation home just as we were passing its driveway, so I needed to find a good spot to turn around.

Witches and fairies, ninjas and pirates, all kept emerging from the blackness so I needed to be extra careful to not inadvertently hit one of the young trick-or-treaters who were ghosting all around us. About this time, I made my big "mistake" by pulling into a narrow tree-shrouded lane and attempting to back up, turning sharply, to reverse direction.

When backing up with a trailer in tow, it is important that the trailer doesn’t turn at an angle greater than 90 degrees. If this happens, the trailer tow hitch will hit the back bumper, doing damage to both. Unfortunately, I did just that. Before we knew it was happening, the trailer bent where it attached to our tow ball. Now, the trailer had no brakes at all because the accident had totally broken the actuator. (This is the mechanism that engages the trailer’s hydraulic brake system.) Eventually, I managed to turn around without any further mishap and carefully made it back to where we would be staying.

The next morning, in the light of day, I realized that our trailer was as twisted as we had feared. This was the perfect opportunity to either get upset or do something about it. Ariel and I decided to skip the upset and get on with our day. Once we launched the boat and secured it at the marina, we spent the beginning of our vacation hunting for a trailer repair shop that could mend the damage.

As luck would have it, there was a company specializing in just that a few miles away. However, the exact part we needed was out of stock, so they suggested replacing it with something similar. After being reassured that the new part would work as well as the old (before we damaged it), we left our trailer and went fishing.

A few days later, when we received the call to pick up our trailer, we were in for quite a surprise. On first inspection, the unit looked quite different, but it seemed okay. However, when we went to attach it to the tow-ball, we weren’t prepared for what happened next.

Traditionally, attaching our trailer required finesse, a bit of pushing and pulling, sweat, and occasionally a good jolt with the heel of a shoe. Now, a simple lift of a lever, and as I cranked the trailer down I heard a sweet sound, kachink, as it dropped effortlessly in place. This was hard to believe so Ariel took over and did it again and… kachink! Very pleased with this turn of events, we paid for the repair, hooked up the trailer, and left the lot. And guess what, we now had brakes… really had brakes. Suddenly, when the brake pedal was depressed, the brakes on the trailer worked, too. That was the moment we realized that our original unit had never, really worked. Grinning, both Ariel and I looked forward to the upcoming stop sign and the next traffic signal. No longer were we being pushed from behind, even when we carried the full weight of the boat.

Because this was the first time Ariel or I had ever towed something large, we didn’t realize that it wasn’t working correctly because we had nothing to compare it with. We assumed that the difficulties we were experiencing were normal; just a part of towing a boat. So, we learned to compensate, making the best of what we had. Then, by accident – literally – we discovered that things could be far easier and better than we had imagined.

When the two of us returned to work and started consulting clients on both personal topics and business matters, our trailer mishap provided a valuable metaphor. There are things that people put up with, in relationships, at work, and at home because they have no experience, no clue that there is another possibility. Since an individual’s reality is determined by what he or she already knows, when something doesn’t fit preconceived ideas, people get frustrated, upset and disturbed. Most people don’t realize that the universe provides us with everything we need in each moment to have a miraculous life. Had the trailer not broken, we would have continued to struggle with it. Towing a boat was frustrating and nerve-wracking, but we didn’t know it could get any better. Sometimes the greatest gifts are those things that you come upon by accident. The next time something goes "wrong," look for the gift in it. You may just be pleasantly surprised.


Ariel and Shya Kane lead evening and weekend groups in Manhattan dedicated to supporting people in living in the moment and having extraordinary, fulfilling lives. For more information, including dates and location, call 908-479-6034, or visit their website: www.ask-inc.com.  The Kanes are internationally acclaimed seminar leaders and business consultants whose revolutionary approach, Instantaneous Transformation, has helped thousands of individuals and companies worldwide. Their books and audios are available at local and online bookstores and via their website.

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