Panic City

When they try to scare you into getting into the habit of saving money instead of spending it, they tell you that most Canadian households are a couple of paycheques away from bankruptcy.

Funny how that doesn’t work: household debt is higher than ever.

Me, I’m always a second or two away from Panic City. The “something” that will put me there can come at any time, and almost did the other day.

We were in Sutton, Quebec, the closest town to where we live, running into the SAQ, a Quebec liquor commission store, to pick up a nice wine for friends we’d be visiting the next day.

On the way back to the car, I felt for my car keys and they weren’t in my coat pockets. I looked up and, alas, there they were, dangling in the car’s ignition!

Oh, no! Panic City!


I do own a second car key, but where it is I don’t for the life of me know. The junk drawer at my apartment in Montreal? The junk drawer at home?

Anyway, home is a good 20 minutes away, on a quiet and rarely used country road…

And I always am vigilant about locking the doors to my car!

This has never happened before, locking myself out of my car. Particularly with my Mazda 3. I’m usually super careful, always checking my pockets a number of times (what, once isn’t enough?) before shutting the door. This car doesn’t have electric locks so I have to lock each door individually.

And the car does beep if you leave you keys in the ignition when you open the door.

So I’m not sure what went wrong this Saturday morning. I think that turning off my IPod first must have triggered that AOK feeling. Unthinking, I opened the door, locking it of course as I automatically do, and shut it closed.


Naomi walked to the back door and tried it. It was unlocked!

So, we were saved a big problem, which, reflecting later, wasn’t so big: we could have called CAA and, sooner or later, someone would have come to open the door. Not the End of the World!

But what struck me afterwards, and still does, is how close I am to Panic City. It’s like I’m walking on Calm Avenue most of the time, but if I should step off the curb for one instant, I can find myself in a deeply-felt, sustaining panic mode.

I don’t know where this stress came from: my heart operation last year? The hemorrhoidectomy this year? Reaching 60 and beyond and thoughts of mortality?

One thing that can put me into a cold sweat, if I really think about it, is the thought of my own death. This is when I think of it with my body and not my mind. My mind can imagine an afterlife. My body only thinks: Oh, you lovely arms, you lovely legs, you lovely heart and brain, your great sense of humour, eggs & coffee on a Sunday morning, a good bridge hand, sitting close to your one-and-only watching a good movie – all no longer!

And that hurts. I’ve been known to shiver and cry in my bed late at night (this doesn’t occur too often, thankfully, and never for that long), and I’m not even sick or infirm!

Oh, well. Just another thing to work on, I suppose…



One thought on “Panic City

  1. Boy, close call with your keys! Panic city avoided! Like you said, it’s usually not the end of the world but I think that in terms of Ayurveda you have a vata imbalance which causes your physiology to switch into the fight or flight response. Lucky for you you meditate which takes you out of the f&f response and brings you out of panic city back to your normal calm state. Imagine those people who get stuck in that state! It’s called PTSD!

    Love D.

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