The great advantage of being in a rut is that when one is in a rut, one knows exactly where one is. – Arnold Bennett
Last week I began my week literally stuck in a rut. My family and I decided to take our new Jeep out into the great outdoors to explore an off-road trail. We have never been off-road driving before so the option to do so in our own vehicle was tantalizing. So off we went! It was a very exciting yet nerve racking experience at first. Navigating “new to us” back roads into strange territory out in the middle of the woods was kind of overwhelming to a bunch of city folk who are were quite new to this experience. But we trudged on, driving through the winding dirt road to nowhere.
All of a sudden we were presented with our first challenge: a cross road. In front of us was a sign marking that the rest of this trail is only meant for ATVs and not vehicles like our Jeep. To our right is a new trail, but the trail was more rough than the one we were just on; a trail with challenges. So we were faced with a dilemma. Do we become law breakers by disobeying the sign and keep going straight? Do we become thrill-seeking nomads and take the challenging trail to our right? Or do we tuck our tails between our legs and head back on the trail we just came from thus avoiding any kind of real challenge. If there was ever a metaphor in a real life situation, this would be it.
Realizing that we were not finished with our adventure and knowing that we were not out to break the rules of the land by going forward, our only option was to take the swampy route to the right. Every road to success can look daunting, dirty and downright fearsome… this road certainly looked that part. There were signs of impending failure all around as we navigated slowly and carefully through our new swampy route. It was messy and harrowing but the excitement grew as we reached a fairly decent sized mud puddle. Oh boy! Here it comes! Our first real challenge of the day. Again faced with the decision of turning around and giving up or trudging through to see what is on the other side, we decided that we are already invested in this adventure this far, so in we went. Success can only be achieved when all possible routes of failure have been overcome. Well, we certainly did fail.
This innocent looking mud puddle might as well have been a lake. It’s waters swallowed our little Jeep until our tires lost grip and we became an island. We were stuck! Mother Nature won! We chose the wrong road and failed… or did we?
Thankfully, we were able to call on friends of ours to come tow us out and get us out of our precarious situation. I was reminded once again of the kindness and generosity of our friends and how comforting it is to know that when we are stuck (literally) we can count on them to pull us out. While it was embarrassing and somewhat demoralizing to have failed on our first off-road trip with our new Jeep there were many lessons to be learned that day and one that I am happy to have experienced.
I have always heard of the metaphor of choosing the right path to success and that in life we will be faced with crossroads in which to choose a direction. Now I have experienced it. I will always be faced with decisions on which direction to go. I could always choose the safe route and go back the way I came but I will always end up never learning just how far ahead I could go. Getting stuck on that path has also taught me that I cannot push my limits alone. From time to time I will need friends to come pull me out of the mud when I fail. So what if I choose the wrong path? Failure is not the opposite of success, failure is just a part of success. I have also learned, mud tastes awful!