Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sink or Swim


The Road We Should Not Have Taken

The March day Brian and I learned the hard way not to go down an unknown road during mud season, we eventually arrived at a beautiful pond which provided the photo opportunity whose results you’ll see in this post. First, however, we foolishly committed the car to a challenge it neither desired nor required to prove itself as a true member of the small army of Subaru wagons enjoying the title of “Official Car of Vermont.”  Our brief but seemingly endless time lurching through deep ruts of thick muck proved not only the car’s mettle, but that of its occupants. It was one of those sink-or-swim situations, only this time the metaphor was a little too literal. 

 Broken and Unbroken

Memorial Day weekend at the end of May in the States is the unofficial beginning of summer. Here in Vermont, it’s the official end of mud season as roads and trails previously off limits open up again for safe passage. Of course, this being Vermont, the first official week of safe passage began with huge fast-moving storms, complete with flood and tornado watches, and, while nowhere near as bad as last year’s Irene crisis, (whose results are still sadly visible even as the one year anniversary draws closer), still with sufficient downpours to set us temporarily back to pre-end-of-mud-season conditions. Fortunately the June sun is a lot more powerful than its March cousin, and no one need fear losing a shoe – or a car – by taking a wrong turn this upcoming weekend.

 Sunlight in March

Even though there was no real option to stop or turn back that day in the mud, I like to think that our continuing to move forward in a manner more like directing a small boat through stormy waters than driving, said something about our perseverant spirit. It was clear that immobilization could occur at any moment, and that being in that condition on a completely deserted and highly unstable back road would, in more ways than one, really suck. I could not even allow myself to think of this happening. As Brian gripped the steering wheel, I kept my eyes focused ahead, looking for signs of better conditions. I think more than once, and only correctly the final time, I pronounced “we are through the worst of it.”

 Down the Drain

There have been times in the not so distant past when I had the distinct feeling that we were not through the worst of it, that, in fact, the worst had only just begun its foul work and was silently and deviously working on even worse bad things to throw our way, things with the power to take any remaining good things right down into the sinkhole with them. Even so, there was no choice but to move forward, and it had very little to do with wisdom, maturity, patience, courage or faith. Just like that car stuck in the mud, stopping was not an option, and the possibility of a better road ahead was all that mattered, whether I actually believed in it or not.

 Washed Ashore

About the only good thing about bad times is putting them behind you.  I for one do not believe that hardship builds character or that suffering is in any way good for you. Grief and worry are a big waste of time, second only to regret and guilt as useless energy-sucking emotions. The only reason we call the crises we endure learning experiences is that otherwise they would seem to have no meaning or purpose whatsoever. Okay, maybe after the first few times you toughen and smarten up, but most of us have all our lessons straight within a few decades and really don’t need all those refresher courses to teach us how to appreciate our loved ones, recognize the fragility of life, or answer our highest and healthiest callings on this planet. Hardship does not draw its value from being in the muck, it’s about what you do once you’re out.  Like a white stone washed ashore basking in the springtime sun.

 The Other Side

Although I have no tangible proof upon which to base it, and no news to report to substantiate it, lately I have been sensing that I am about to come out the other side of difficult times.  I’ve been optimistically declaring this imminent shift in my fortunes for months, but this time I really can see, or rather feel, the existence of better conditions ahead.  I am indeed through the worst of it. And this time I believe it, because it’s true.  May all of you who are on your own difficult stretch of road, and you know who you are, soon come out the other side and bask in the sun again.   

28 comments:

  1. (sorry i clicked to fast) ... Such encouranging for me, i'm glad to be back because i missed you and all the blog friends, yes we are a family in a way..-)) this is a beautifull post

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    1. Yes, dear Laura, I was thinking of you as I wrote this - you are one of the friends I send my best wishes to, for better times ahead! Have a beautiful weekend. Sending you my love.

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  2. What a wonderful post. You are a wise soul. I spend alot of time alone and can reasonate with your words. I seem to think this way too. It's lovely to read. Thank you for sharing - good things will come your way for sure, if you are thinking they will. I believe that thoughts become things. And you are right, what else can you do in a difficult situation but to wade through it. It's there for a reason in the first, anyway, right? We would not be who we are today, without the challenges born of yesterday. x

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  3. Thank you so much Louise! I don't think of myself as wise at all, just observant. You are right, difficulties are there for a reason, and do shape who we are, but there are times you want to say "enough shaping already!" and just get on with living. It seems so many of my nearest and dearest have been having a rough time of it lately, and I hope for all of us that good things are on their way. Have a great weekend!

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  4. Dear Gabriella,
    I think you are so strong and powerfull. You can overcame everything because you have serenity.
    The learning non stop...the road is too long.
    All my good wishes to you!

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    1. Cris, you are too kind! True, we never stop learning. The road may be long, but I am happy to be traveling, especially when it means meeting wonderful souls like you! All the best to you, my dear.

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  5. Gabriella...nothing like the living through the days of our lives....in the muck, in the sunshine and even starting the days caked with mud...sometimes, as you say there are lessons to be learned, but by this point in our lives, many of those lessons have been learned....it's just the journey....often it is what it is. I am always uplifted by your inner and outer observations and find your optimism contagious....you are on the right road, out of the muck and into the sun!! Cheers!

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    1. Patti, thanks so much, I knew you'd understand. "It is what it is" always sounds so simplistic, but I find myself not only using that phrase more often, but living it daily. My contagious optimism is being tested a lot lately, but it's just how I am - I instinctively see the bright side, but it's a conscious choice to give it more attention than the usually far more loud and demanding dark side! Writing these posts is just one way of focusing that attention - and the reactions I get from readers gives me the added strength to keep my gaze onward and upward! All the best to you.

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  6. This is a beautiful narrative of the toggle between dissonance and resonance in our lives. Your pictures are poetic and your words match. This is the 'stuff' of life.

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    1. Well, thank you Kass! Glad you liked.

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  7. Hi G/TT - I'm back! And by the way, thanks for writing this post just about me (laugh). It resonated for sure. Your images were perfect illustrations to your story and I love how you reckon there is no higher purpose for all these challenges - at times they just suck. True. But also that it is what is is for sure. We find a way, we make a way, and we keep going. I just had to cancel attendance at a fabulous conference in Portland OR, but I recalled your previous post and realised my door shutting had just opened a door for somebody else to be totally excited and feeling like they won the lottery! All good. I wish for you the light at the end of the tunnel - and am sure you are about to make it thru to the other side. Best to you - go well and thanks.

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    1. Welcome back, dear F, and thanks for your comment! I see that Barry was back on Blogger briefly also, a great relief and a good sign. I thought you might see a little of yourself in this post! The sad thing is, I do know quite a few people who have been in the muck lately, so to speak, so writing this post seemed as much a service to them as to myself! It's always nice when one's self-coaching can do some good for others! That's pretty funny about your conference! It's all about perspective. Have a wonderful week, much love to you both.

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  8. Dear Gabriella, when you take a look at my blog you will see i passed you an
    'Liebster blog award', thanks for your ever interesting and beautiful posts, xx
    ( i'm not so keen on these award things but it was given to me by such a lovely lady,
    it felt ok and it's another way to say how much i appreciate to visit you here everytime)

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    1. Renilde, I just saw your blog and the lovely gesture of including me in your list of award recipients - and again, I offer my humble thanks! I too am not so keen on these things, but I understand and appreciate your good intention behind it. I don't think I could narrow it down to only five! I draw such inspiration and support from so many blog friends like you whose lives are all about making meaningful and beautiful things - what other life can there be? Have a wonderful week, dear friend.

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  9. "no refresher courses..."
    my point exactly...
    still, that seems to be what we're getting all too often. a wink and a smile go a long way, i always whisper to myself. sometimes it works too.

    but i simply must introduce myself! we seem to share a liebster award {over at renilde's} and i'm popping over to say hi, and pleased to meet you. ta ta.
    n♥

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    1. Woolf, well met! Thank you for visiting me here via Renilde's wonderful blog and her generous gesture in putting us both on her liebster award list! It seems I am in good company!

      Yes, I try to use the wink-and-smile method myself, and as you say, sometimes it works. Not every time, but better than never.

      Enjoy the week.

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  10. "Although I have no tangible proof upon which to base it, and no news to report to substantiate it, lately I have been sensing that I am about to come out the other side of difficult times." <---- that's called faith, hon. And it's unbeatable.

    Several years ago I went through one of the hardest times in my life - I had quit my job to be the homemaker in the relationship I was in, so I had very little money of my own - and then we broke up. I had no job, no money, no place to live, and a few less friends. I slept on the couch after being told I needed to move out within three weeks, and night after night I prayed.

    Soon I began to get the very firm feeling that things in my life were going to turn out just fine and that I'd come out on the other side blessed and with an overflowing cup of gratitude. My friends, my family, even my therapist kept checking in to see how stressed I was. I'm not stressed at all, I told them. I know things are going to work out.

    Within that three week period I had a job that gave me enough money up front to put a deposit down on an apartment with a friend as a roommate, and a few less judgmental people in my life that had been posing as friends.

    Several years later I have an amazing apartment, a wonderful fiance, a career I work my butt off at, and an armload of amazing friends. And an adorably passive aggressive cat.

    You will get through this. The rock of your faith can withstand any storm and you will smile when the waves come in.

    Hugs.

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    1. Thanks, T, for sharing this. I think I understand why you use the name Phoenix a little better now! From your blog, I know a little about the difficulties you went through and especially how completely things have turned around for you - your happiness is evident in every post, second only to your continued gratitude. Not wanting to get into religious matters here, but I have never been an "organized religion" kinda gal, though I've studied it and been around it much of my life - what I did retain in my highly individual and non-denominational spirituality was faith, gratitude, and an urge to do people a kindness whenever I can. Sounds like we have all that in common - and that as long as we steer clear of those judgmental posers (boy have I had my share of those toxic types!) you and I will thrive. I'm right behind you on the turnaround. I've got the wonderful guy and place to live, and I even have an adorable cat - it's the job situation and money woes dragging us all down. I suppose that's both the item of least consequence and greatest power to make all the blessings shine a little less brightly! But, all will soon be well, I know it, you know it, the Universe knows it.

      Thank you so much for your comment. It truly means the world to me. Hugs right back to you.

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  11. Good that there is always in a way the other side of the road to reach out and to hope, that bad things are over..
    Stay well, my friend!!
    Hugs and good faith...

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  12. Monika, many thanks for your comment! I can feel the other side - and better times - getting closer every day! Hugs to you also, dear friend.

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  13. Hi TT/G - all power to the "muck-runners". Always a bit of a challenge - but sounds like your guys held your nerve and came out the other side. I remember in my night waking time thinking we can choose to be victims or survivors - and some thing clicked in my head that said get moving being a victim is not an option so you might just as well do the hard yards and come out the other side. Glad to hear that you have a deep sense that things are shifting - I wish the best for you and B. Go well and strive well. B

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    1. Hi Barry! I understand what you mean about victim vs. survivor - quite simply one is passive and the other active and that makes all the difference! There is no shame in having bad things you can't control befall you, it's what you do next that is the true measure of your character, and attitude is the one thing we actually can control. Here's to survival! Wishing you and F all the best.

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  14. Thank you for a wonderful post

    Your description of the mud rutted road in Vermont is so accurate, it brings back memories.

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  15. Greetings Poet Whale and thank you for your comment! May I say I love that name, the way the two words seem to be incongruous but actually make a lot of sense together! Great noble creatures both!

    This post seems to have attracted a lot of attention, which is gratifying on the one hand, but also sad because it means that I was all too correct in assuming a lot of people out there have been having a hard time lately and felt like they were on a stretch of mud-rutted road. But seasons pass, and so will the difficulties so many of us seem to be mired in.

    I'm wondering if the fact that every Vermonter has at one time or another, and possibly once a year if they aren't careful, experienced being stuck in the muck is part of what makes them so tough and resilient? There is a certain grim acceptance (and expectation?) here that muck will happen, but also an incredibly ready and energetic resilience in terms of getting out of it and putting it behind.

    Have a great weekend!

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  16. That's quite a story Gabriella, i can imagine how afraid you both must have been also. But what breathtaking photo's this trip brought. Beautiful photo's and always telling more than you see at first sight.
    As i read your posts its always like a wonderful trip to me, i walking together with you on beautiful paths. And always, perhaps i repeat myself and wrote this before, but always i feel comfort and joy and peace after reading your words and looking at your photo's. Feeling less dark and stressed about the problems of life. i also admre the form of your words, how you begin with nature or your surroundings and transform that in emotions and expressions.......
    This post brings so much comfort to me, because at the moment my love and i are far from the we are through the worst of it. This post is like a little light for me.

    Hugs and xoxo and i am happy to be your friend.

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    1. Thank you for your comment, dear Monica, and also for mentioning me on FB! It makes me very happy that my posts affect you the way they do, and that you take the time to appreciate them as deeply and thoughtfully as the spirit in which they are written. I'm sorry to hear that you and J are having a tough time too - it does seem that this post comes at a time when so many of my blogfriends are struggling in one way or another! May we all find the light soon. Much love to you.

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