I have been living in Salt Lake City for 4 years now. In that time I have found back routes from my house to locations that I frequent- the gym, Whole Foods, Sugarhouse Coffee, or Guthrie Bicycle for example. If you were to measure the distance of my side-street-ventures, it would likely measure longer than taking the main roads, but I love my back roads. There is less congestion, fewer traffic lights, and an ease with which I seem to flow from locale to locale. Clearly I am not the only person who has lived in Salt Lake City for 4 years, I can't be the only person who has had the option of taking these alternate pathways, and yet, my back routes still remain full of flow and free of others. More often than not there is uncertainty involved in choosing the backroads; they are the alternative, not the first choice, and everyone wants their first choice. It dawned on me recently that these opposing paths are much like life.
I fractured my tibial plateau just over a month ago in Russia. In a season where I was returning from a major knee surgery the year before, getting injured again was not something that I had planned on; I suppose no one ever plans an injury, but I certainly didn't see it coming in such a flukey way, and definitely not if I was taking all the right steps in a gradual return to competition. Last week I had a day where I was really down about having another season (my third in a row now) cut short by injury. I asked myself, "when are you going to learn? when are you going to change so that you don't get frustrated and down?" The reality is that we will never change; at least not completely.
There will never be a time that we are unaffected by difficult situations that arise in our lives. We are human, and when bad things happen, it hurts. But we can become more aware of how we handle these moments. This awareness is what will allow us to flow through life with more ease, even when things go awry- just like my back roads. The traffic on the main roads never really goes away, stop lights don't always stay GREEN, but if we are aware of the back roads we can begin to flow with what is happening around us. Instead of remaining controlled by our ego, which was fixed on taking the main road, we open our eyes to other options. When a light turns red ahead of us, we turn; where there is traffic, we get out of it. We begin to see that there is more than one way to our destination and our future doesn't have to be exactly as we had envisioned.
Every now and again life catches up with us. Our goals and dreams suddenly seem more daunting than motivating, we dwell on the past or fret about the future, instead of staying grounded in the present moment. Once again this year, the path that I had outlined had taken a major detour; the future I had envisioned hadn't arrived. The path to fulfillment is often a challenging one. We set our heart's intent on achieving something outside of ourselves, something over which we don't have complete control. Whether this goal is ending a war in Congo, like my friend Sean Carasso founder of the Falling Whistles Campaign for Peace, or winning an Olympic gold medal, there are only so many aspects of the pursuit that fall directly in our control. The important part is following our hearts and creating the path along the way, remembering always that there is more than one road. For me right now, this means taking a little more time off of snow and a little more time giving my body what it needs more than anything: a break. What does it mean for you?
"You do what you can for as long as you can, and when you finally can't, you do the next best thing. You back up, but you don't give up." - Chuck Yeager (first man to break the sound barrier)