So many signs along the road as I go for my morning walk! Some are about upcoming events (Dance! Friday night!). Others to locate a lost pet, complete with picture, description and contact number. Then, there are road signs. Dead End. No Right Turn on Red. School Zone. But the one that intrigued me was: Primitive Road. Caution. Use At Your Own Risk.
Roads, especially the dirt ones, are a specialty of our rural areas. What makes for a well-built road? First, they are graded to become flat and smooth. The best ones have a slight crown in the middle of the roadway to allow rain or melting snow to drain away. A very durable material of surface gravel, stones, and fine dirt is then dumped on the area and smoothed with massive pieces of equipment. Next is a layer of finely compacted earth, designed to be long-lasting to the weather.
But after a while, washboarding occurs. That’s the choppy ride you get when traveling over five mph on this jarring surface. The road itself resembles an old-fashioned washboard, hence the name, and if you speed along, can even be hazardous. Potholes can also be menaces, threatening axels and alignments of cars. But to repair and maintain them, huge graders are brought in. They take about an inch from the top of the surface, blend it with new materials and lay it back down. The road is smooth again.
The sign and the road are like life. At a very early age, you begin to build a foundation of belief and knowledge. This is similar to creating a smooth road and is indeed Primitive. The sources of this base usually come from your mom and dad, other family members, school experiences and sometimes your church. As a baby and toddler, you are cautious, for the world is new to you. Slowly, you build a framework of know-how. What is successful is retained, while you toss that which is not useful. Over the years, you develop a pattern of life for yourself.
But every now and again, a pothole pops up or you hit a washboard. Life is bumpy or even treacherous. Your experience from the past cannot cover this new event. Perhaps it’s the death of someone close to you. Or the failure of a business you started up. Or the frustration of not dropping those pounds that appear to be glued on permanently.
You can choose to stop there. After all, the sign says, “use at your own risk.” But then you take a chance on getting stuck where you are, never venturing out to new horizons or trying new venues.
But how to positively maintain your road? Here are some ideas:
- Check out your beliefs. What was useful in the past may not always be what works in the present. And may not fuel those dreams for the future.
- Test your risk quotient. Take a chance and venture to somewhere new. Do something you’ve never tried before. Stretch your horizons.
- Take a look at your personal potholes and washboard situations. A relative rub you the wrong way? A friend try to put limits on your life? Start the day with a negative outlook? Time to grade the top layer? Or perhaps dig deeper and sort through some of the stones and gravel of learning placed there years ago? Take an inventory and make some changes.
Life is an adventure. You can keep on traveling the washboard of experiences. Or begin new adventures to smooth your life and enjoy growth for your heart and soul. The time is now.