One evening, Bob and I were on our way into town for a rare dinner out on a major two-lane state road. Spring driving here in the Northeast often means the asphalt version of corduroy, or a deteriorated and crumbled version of sinkholes.
Bob, ever the skilled driver, approached these rough patches in a variety of ways and I had to laugh because here was an obvious and active metaphor for dealing with the challenges, the rough roads and bumps, in our lives and our creative work.
You’ve experienced this. You are moving smoothly ahead, writing your book, building your portfolios or resume or business. The sun is out and it’s a beautiful day for a ride. Then, often without warning, you hit a pothole or a rough patch in the road. There should have been signs but often, there aren’t. And hitting those rough patches can result in a slowing or loss of progress, or even a breakdown.
Where is the road crew? Why don’t they get out here and patch these potholes, repave that stretch of road? Don’t they see how hazardous this is?
Unfortunately, if you want to get to the other side of those rough patches, if you want to continue on your creative journeys (unless you can pay to have someone airlift you over them!), you have to decide how you will get past those bumps, dips, and jagged edges.
Here are three ways to move through these rough patches:
1. Tighten the seat belt, grip the wheel, and put the pedal to the metal. Sometimes, if you can move forward over that rough road as quickly as possible you won’t feel the rattling and shaking in your bones as badly or as long. This is often not the best solution because, if the potholes are deep or the patches exceedingly rough, you’ll come out the other side with internal damage that isn’t discovered until later and can take more work and time to repair.
2. Check for oncoming traffic, and finesse your way around the rough road and bumps by moving into the other lane. This approach works on secondary roads but not so well on heavily trafficked roads where you’ll risk more pain and problems by moving out of your path to avoid the pain and problems in front of you. This technique requires a degree of risk and an ability to see farther down the road, otherwise you may never get where you want to go.
3. Slow down to move carefully through the bumps and rough patches. This is often the approach that most would rather not have to take, not with a fast-paced, get-me-there-yesterday agenda. Surely there must be a faster, easier way? Nope. And complaining about the unfairness of it all, of the government who won’t keep the roads maintained or the darned weather, just isn’t going to make the rough patches go away. The rough patches must be traversed slowly, with awareness, in order come out the other side, still whole if a little rattled.
I’m not wild about dealing with those rough patches either. But neither you nor I are going to get away with only smooth, open highways. Instead, you get to make choices about how you’ll respond and move through them, always keeping in mind where you want to go. And, believe it or not, sometimes there is something to be learned in traversing those potholes and that rough road.
So, as snows melt, and rains fall this spring, keep your mind on where you want to go, but your eyes on the road in front of you. Be prepared for the rough patches. Safe journeys!
I’m going out on my own bumpy road here to offer a customized coaching program based on your needs and budget. As with a consultant, after we talk about what you need and want, I will offer you a proposed program that will both serve you and meet your time and monetary budgets. Areas for mentoring might include getting that book written; learning the use of tools such as dream work, tarot, and rituals to enhance your creative or spiritual journey; and support and encouragement for a new venture or challenge. If you are interested in talking with me about your customized program, then email me and we’ll schedule a time to talk.