I sat down at my computer today to create one of my podcast episodes, and opened up my notes app where I keep a backlog of ideas for future podcasts…and somehow it had reverted to a version of the note from like 5 months ago. My recent idea stash was gone.
After 30 minutes of Google searches to try and solve it, I was frustrated, and then after sitting for 20 minutes to try to think about all of the ideas I had made note of over the last couple of months… I was completely deflated.
I put the ideas in my Notes so that I don’t have to try and remember them and store them in my brain. And once they are in there…they are basically gone from my mind. Until I open up the notes app and refresh my memory and take the idea and expand it into an episode. Sitting there trying to remember all of the little nuggets and stories that I pull out of my day to day experiences to make into episodes that I know will help you all and not being able to recall but a mere fraction of them made me feel sad and regretful. Like they are just gone. And some of them were so good!
That is when I noticed my mind throwing up “shoulds”. Like I should’ve taken screen shots of the note so that I would have it somewhere else. I should’ve backed up my phone before the update so I could retrieve them. I should’ve kept them in a google doc instead the stupid notes app. Of course none of which I actually thought of or thought was necessary before I found out my notes were messed up.
The path we didn’t expect
But isn’t this just how it goes sometimes? Not how we want it to or expect it to. Whether we are talking about our plan for our day or our plan for our weight loss journey.
If my notes app had done what I expected it to do, my day would have gone differently. I wouldn’t have had frustration and sadness and regret as a part of it and I would be done with this week’s podcast right now.
Sometimes I think we imagine or expect to walk a path that is made up of smooth, flat, stable, circular, symmetrical stones with no incline and no obstacles. Where the way is clear and all laid out for us. Whether we are consciously aware of this expectation or not, it is there. We know that is true based on how we react when things don’t go as planned.
My husband and youngest daughter and I went on a ride in the mountains last weekend in our side by side. We wanted to go explore a bit as fall is in full swing and the mountains are full of gorgeous colors. We were in an area that we were fairly unfamiliar with so we were using a trail app my husband has to navigate to where we wanted to go and make sure we could get back to our camp.
We had a destination in mind-to find a spot that overlooked this valley-but we weren’t quite sure how to get there exactly-so we just followed the trail map and went in the general direction that we thought would take us up to it. Looking at the map we could tell about how far it was and guess at how long it would take. But until we were driving the actual trails, we really had no idea. We were driving on fire roads and trails that are not really maintained super well. It was all passable, but a lot of it was quite rocky and made for slow going. The entire trip ended up being like 3 ½ hours which was 2 hours longer than we were thinking the ride would be when we set out. But I mean, we were definitely in explore mode versus get straight there mode…so we took some longer routes and some paths that ended up being dead ends…But by the middle of hour 3 my daughter was more than done.
So we ended up talking about how although we had an idea of how long the roads were and what trails to take and how to get back, what the map did not tell us was how rocky and bumpy the roads were, or how steep the hills would be. There was no way for the app to estimate the time it would take to complete the route we took because it would vary so much depending on the vehicle you were in and the weather that day and the time of year.
We could see that path on the map, but could not predict what was unknown and how it would impact our experience of it and our ability to navigate it.
My daughter is currently studying our state’s history as part of her school curriculum and a big part of the recent history of our state was pioneers that came here from across the country. They didn’t have maps or fire roads or trails or rubber tires or suspension or gas powered engines. They were moving cross country making their own trails, hoping they were going the right direction toward somewhere they would be able to make a home.
Their obstacles were much different, more prolific, and much more challenging than ours. But in both cases, we started with an idea of where we wanted to go and the general direction we would head in, and we discovered the rest as we went and figured out how to keep going.
A mix of beauty and pain
The path you are on will be a little of both. You have a bigger picture- a map-zoomed way out giving you an overview of here to there. It looks pretty straightforward from that zoomed out perspective. But not until you are walking that path will you be able to see the details and nuances that make up the reality of it.
As hour three came and went…my daughter made it known that she was quite miserable and regretted the whole thing (even though it was her idea). She had to go to the bathroom, she was hungry, and over being bumped and jostled around. She was pretty adamant that she had enjoyed none of it by the end of it. But as we retraced the beginning section of the path we had taken on our way up, we talked about how we felt as we had set out on this same road 3 hours earlier.
We were all (including her), marveling at the brilliant colors of the leaves all around us. At how lovely it was to be in the fresh mountain air. We were surprised at how bumpy the road was at first-which we noticed on the way down, that same road did not seem bumpy at ALL compared to what we had been on higher up the road…I’m pretty sure at one point we were rock crawling through the boulders of a dried up river bed…that is the kind of bumpy we experienced later which made the road in the beginning seem relatively smooth.
We talked about some of the memorable moments-sweeping vistas of the surrounding mountains when we reached the top, driving through a section of the forest that was extremely old and clearly untouched by forest fires based on the size of some of the pine trees…The leaves and all of their colors, laughing as we drove down the giant boulder section-my husband was all for seeing what our vehicle could do and my daughter and I were pretty convinced that we were definitely not supposed to be driving vehicles down this and that ours wouldn’t survive and we would end up walking back-but we couldn’t help but just laugh at the craziness of it. There was beauty and pain all mixed together.
That is how it is on any path we take on this journey of change. There will be parts of the path where you are surrounded by beauty and filled with gratitude. Parts that are so smooth that you just cruise along at top speed with the wind in your hair. Parts that seem smooth compared to the bumpiness of others. Sections where you will be navigating boulders so big, you consider turning around and running away somehow and in the middle of them, doubt you will be able to get through. You will head down a path, thinking it is the way, and find out it is a dead end and you have to turn around and head in a different direction.
This is not a predetermined man-made path you are treading with perfect, smooth, strategically placed stones. You are largely blazing your own trail. Doing what you have never done in a way you have never done it before. Heading cross country, through the trees, over uneven rough rocky terrain, across rivers of misery, learning as you go.
If you knew this in your bones, and instead of expecting that expertly laid path of identical smooth stones, you knew it would be bumpy, and rocky, and long, and tiring, and unexpected. Maybe then, Unlike the grumpiness of my daughter or the sadness and regret of me this afternoon with my lost notes- your experience would be filled with more commitment, more flexibility, and more peace.
Here’s to your imperfect path and all the bumps along the way. You’ve got this! And if your needing more help taking this uncomfortable path then let me help.