Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sliding Down Difficult Hills Of Life

Some days life reminds me of an experience I had when I was learning to drive on snow and ice.  It was many years ago now, but we had a small little 1980 Ford Pinto with tires that weren't so good.  On the way home from church, we got one of those unexpected snow and ice storms in Iowa, which was beginning to make the roads very slippery.

Leaving church, we went our regular 17 mile journey home.  Due to the road conditions, my father thought it was a good time for me to get some practice in on how to drive on snow and ice.  I was not very comfortable with this plan because of the hilly roads we had to take.  Yet, there was no way to say no to my father and get him to understand that this was probably not a good idea.

As we left Jefferson, Iowa, we crossed the bridge to the river and began heading up this steep incline and curvy road.  It was difficult enough to navigate when the road was normal, let alone when it was covered with a slick layer of snow, ice and slush.  My hands were glued to the steering wheel, my neck was as tense as could be as I began the journey up this hill.  I could barely breathe for fear of the steep drop off to one side.

At first the car began to chug up the hill with no problem, but about half way up, I could feel the car begin to lose traction.  As it did, it started to spin out and the next thing I knew the car was sliding down the road on this hill. It was not just sliding down either as it was starting to turn sideways.  There were very sharp turns on this road, so I was frightened that I would be able to keep it on the road and not roll over the hill.  Of course my father was screaming the entire time to do this, and do that and not let it spin out and so on and so forth.  His screams were loud and frantic which did nothing to help calm me down.

Finally the car came to a stop on the road and fortunately there were no cars coming in either direction at this point.  My father was so upset with me that somehow I had failed to properly navigate the car in these conditions.  I don't recall if I told him he could now drive or if he wanted me out of the driver's seat.  Either way, it was a tense ride the rest of the way home.  I felt like a failure and I felt the eyes of the family were looking at me as if I had just murdered someone.  The family of course had someone that day to blame for being angry at the world.

There are many lessons I can take away from this in how people react in life.  Generally speaking, people have all this bottled up stress and anger within themselves, but to let it out is unthinkable.  Instead, they focus it on some person for some event that they can blame and justify their anger.  It doesn't matter if that person is really responsible for the events and how they unfold because they twist logic in their mind to make sure they hold them responsible.  Just like in this episode, my family used my inexperience of almost killing everyone to let their anger and stress lash out.

However, the other lesson I drew from this applies to the difficult parts I'm dealing with currently in my life.  Like this moment, I can see that the traveling conditions are not ideal, but I need to travel along my road in life.  As I keep traveling, I spin out half way up the hill and begin to slide down.  My only hope at that moment is keeping the car (or my life) on the road and not falling over the edge of the hill.  Once I get the car stopped on the hill safely, I can then turn around and find an alternate route on the journey of my life.

It really is a story about what life feels like right now to me.  It isn't easy and even though I'm frightened and not sure of what to do, I can only hope for the best.  At some point the sliding will stop and I'll be able to turn things around.  Sliding down the hills of life can seem like an end, but I know from experience that there is usually another route to take.  I will continue to look for that alternate road and then proceed with hope.

Blog Post And Images (c) 7/2/12 by Don Shetterly

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