It was sunny a few days ago. The sun makes me happy and one of the ways that I make sure to soak it up is to hit the cross country ski trails. But alas, I’m not a very good cross country skier. Many skate ski quickly by while I stay within my two little tracks created by the groomer. These tracks are made for folks like me who aren’t quite comfortable on skis without edges on the flats.
These tracks are especially helpful once you’ve climbed a hill and it’s time to ski down. Cross country skis are NOT like downhill skis. You can’t really snowplow or pizza effectively. Rather, you have to put your weight forward and glide down until the flat slows you down.
So, the other day I was going along on my little tracks as everyone passed me and I came to the top of a hill. I stayed within my tracks and started the nerve wracking descent. But there was a problem. My reliable, comfortable, safe tracks became uneven. One side was much lower than the other and then I saw giant holes under the tracks and bumps I hadn’t anticipated. I started yelling words that start with “sh” and “f” and saying things that don’t normally come out of my mouth.
I wobbled and cursed and looked like a flailing, freaking out beginner. And then I stopped and looked back at those tracks and I thought, “What the heck am I doing?” Clearly, though I feel like this should be the safest route to me, it is not.
So, I stepped out of the tracks and onto the route that always seems a little more dangerous to me. I went on like this for a while until the tracks beckoned me again, saying, “come back, we are your safe place.” I stepped into them again and once again things got harder. So, out I went to the open space and there I stayed. Up over hills and back down the other side. And I was okay. Less burdened by uneven terrain and holes and bumps.
The thing is… I could navigate around the obstacles if I wasn’t stuck in the tracks. But, if I stayed within the tracks I was forced to deal with them.
And I couldn’t help but think that life is like that a little bit. Maybe by staying in the tracks that were either created for us by our families or our careers or that we created for ourselves with overuse… we rob ourselves of the courage to step out of the groove of our life and the freedom to navigate the rough patches with a little bit more ease.
Maybe sometimes the comfortable places, the seemingly easy grooves, the patterns and rituals and habits that seem like the very safest places are in reality… not very safe at all.