Lean into the Spin

May 26, 2021

by Monette Chilson

This week, I experienced one of those “almost disasters” that reveals the fragility of life. One of those moments that made me realize how little control I have over the part of my life that matters the most to me—the people I love.

My 17-year old son was in a car accident and totaled my husband’s sports car. He was lucky to walk away and was shaken to the core. I’m not sure if there is any population that feels more invincible than teenagers. You and I know that going around a curve too fast can kill you, but teenagers—especially those enamored with the new thrill of being behind the wheel—don’t really believe that any harm can come to them. They have no life experience that shows them that things as mundane of driving can take them down. In an instant.

One minute he felt superman strong as he commandeered a sleek powerful vehicle down the road. The next he felt completely helpless sitting in a ditch in a crumpled car. He went from embodying strength to feeling devoid of it in an instant.

What changed was not his actual strength but his ability to control the situation he was in. One minute, in the driver’s seat. The next? Spinning out of control. I am wondering how often we confuse strength with control. How many times I try to control areas of my life simply so they won’t spin out of control. When, in fact, they might need to spin out of control a bit.

When did women become so scared of the messy, unpredictability of losing control? Of the wreckage that will surely ensue if they stop trying to hold it all together.

In fact, in this case, the officer on the scene told us that the damage (to both passengers and vehicle) would have been much worse if he had resisted the spin—the loss of control—rather than wisely leaning into it as he did. He would have flipped the car multiple times resulting in injuries that I don’t want to even fathom.

I will never know for sure, but I am guessing that this week he learned a lesson that will make him slow down and drive more safely than a thousand lectures ever could. I am guessing that this wreck saved him from a worse one.

What lessons can we take from those moments in life when we spin out of control? Can we embrace those out-of-control moments of being completely untethered rather than fighting them? Can we acknowledge that leaning into the loss of control might take more strength than trying to tame the untamable?

Today when things are spinning out of control in your life, take a deep breath and lean into the spin. Then pick yourself up out of the ditch and congratulate yourself for not staying there. 


Note: This essay was written as part of an exploration of strength done with the women in my Lilith Journey course. When we are open to redefining concepts like strength, we begin to see the ways we have limited ourselves by conflating strength with control. 



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