Check Engine Light: Metaphor for Life?

Last week on a commute home from work, I noticed my Check Engine Light was on. This was particularly annoying and frustrating, as my car was just in for its 25,000 mile service two weeks ago.

A light to tell you something is wrong? Brilliant!

The outcome from that visit? A clean bill of health for my car (if we overlook the body damage from my various encounters with parking garage poles). But apparently all was not well after all, as the Check Engine Light revealed.

As I thought about this, I couldn’t help but laugh. It was as if I was describing myself. By all appearances, all good! On paper, perfect! Doctor’s visit diagnosis and test results? You’re fine! Keep taking your vitamins! But the reality is, once I take a closer look at the inside … oooof, it needs a bit of work. (And the personal body damage is the topic for another blog post or 20.)

How different everything would be if people had the equivalent of a Check Engine Light – something to alert you when things just weren’t quite right, when you required a little extra care or attention. It may be a simple fix, such as reducing the number of miles you drive at any given time, or slowing down a bit on the open road. Sometimes, the repair ends up being a bit more complicated – parts need to be replaced, fluids changed, electronics re-wired. The thing that’s most interesting to me about the Check Engine Light is that it would be evident to anyone who glances over and takes a look at the dashboard – a painfully obvious warning that something is off and needs to be addressed.

I guess what I need to admit is that my personal Check Engine Light is on, not only my car’s. But I have decided to pull over for a minute and figure out what’s going on, and what needs to be done to get back on track. There is a lot of road left ahead of me, after all.

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