Has life presented you with any “teachable moments” lately?

You know, when you simply find yourself in a situation looking for an invisible “Undo” button?

Life on the road is rich with teachable moments for this girl!

One such event occurred when I arrived in Moab, Utah.  From writing down the story, I discovered some important life-path clues buried in the text.  I’m presenting the story and the process as an example, so you can try it on one of your teachable moments!

The story is below, and I explain the underlining and footnotes at the end.  I suggest you read the whole story before going to the footnotes.

The Story

I’ve been visiting Moab for 20 years, so I know the area well (first inaccurate assumption).  I grabbed a beautiful camping spot in one of my favorite areas.  Unfortunately, the price has increased beyond my degree of frugality, it lacks cell service, and I had to keep Daisy on the leash as it is a campground.[1]  So, I went on a scouting mission to find a more suitable spot to spend a couple of weeks.

I chose to go on this adventure on a rainy morning that followed a rainy night, so it was really wet outside.  It seemed like a good idea at the time to spend the rainy day in the car (next poor assumption).  After checking out a few areas, I went to a road I knew well from past mountain biking adventures.  Most camping spots were occupied on the way to the trailhead, so I drove beyond the familiar area[2].  New red rock scenery kept me going, and I was pretty sure I knew where the road would come out to the highway (uh yes, the next very poor assumption).[3]  The road was becoming wet clay – stick-to-your-tires-like-thick-snot-clay.  I noticed I was starting to spin out a little on the smallest of rises.

If you’ve never experienced driving in wet clay, it is like driving in wet snow on top of ice.  There is no traction, so you dare not stop or you’ll get stuck.  Therefore, turning around is a problem as well.[4]

I was starting to get nervous because I’m driving a Honda CRV, not exactly an off-road 4×4!  I barely made it up a winding hill as the road was narrowing.  Getting to the top, I could see into the next valley.  Shit!  I wasn’t where I thought I was.  Now I’m getting scared.  My mind was catastrophizing the situation imagining humiliation, a wrecked car, or worse![5]

I stopped to consult the map.  I was quite a ways from the highway, and I had no idea what kind of road this turned into.  All I could see was rocky, rolling hills leading down into the valley.[6]

Then I spotted a jeep heading towards me.  I was in their way.  I tried to reverse to move to the side of the road.  All four tires spun.  Shit!  The Jeep reversed and pulled off the road.  I had no choice but to go down the hill towards them, knowing I wouldn’t be able to turn around and go back up.[7]  I pretty much slid down, and then jumped out to ask them about the road.

A Middle Eastern man rolled down his window.  He had very kind eyes and an accent.  I’m sure he could see my distress from the get-go.  I told him of my predicament and asked about the road conditions where he had just come from.  He reported that it wasn’t bad except for one rough and rocky section that had a drop.  He wasn’t sure if my car had the clearance to make it, and he was very sure I wouldn’t be able to climb back up it if I needed to.

This is the first point an “Undo” button would’ve been nice to take me back to my trailhead.  But alas, no Undo.

Ahmed, the kind man in the jeep, agreed to take me back to the rocky section to assess whether my car would make it.  It wasn’t far, and then I REALLY wished I could slam on the “Undo” button!  Here was a narrow, steep, slickrock chute. 

Heart pounding, I walked the incline with Ahmed to get a closer look.  Upon inspection, I actually thought my car could do it, even if it might scrape a little.  However, there was NO WAY it would make it back up.  Ahmed promised over and over that he would never send me this way if I couldn’t make it to the highway.  He assured me things got easier, but we just had to get me over this rough patch first.

I chose to trust Ahmed.  He stood out in the rain, guiding me down.  Not only did my car make it, but it didn’t scrape nor did it slide.  I thanked Ahmed profusely.[8]

We then parted, and I drove out towards the highway, passing spots with motorhomes parked in them.  I knew I was going to make it to the highway!  (Also, this area is where I found my camping spot after returning when things dried out.)

This story has multiple gifts and lessons:

  • We are wired to help each other, regardless of skin color, ethnicity, or religion.
  • Life brings us what we need, when we need it.
  • Don’t drive in the desert on a wet, rainy day!
  • Life doesn’t come with an “Undo” button!

Putting this story on paper, I was stunned to see all of the clues for my life path presented as an allegory within the story!  Underlining, and in this case adding footnotes, truly provided insight into my life path.  The footnotes below give an explanation for the underlined statements.

I think the “rough patch” Ahmed helped me through is referring to the adjustment of leaving the known behind.  It’s not easy heading out on the road into the unknown, especially in the beginning.  Many internal adjustments are required.  But as this allegory has shown me, I get through the rough patch, cruise easily to the highway, and find my home on the way.

Here’s the process:

  1. Journal the story (free write it – don’t worry about grammar, just tell the story for yourself in your words);
  2. Review the written story for metaphors, and underline or highlight them; and
  3. See your life-path clues through the metaphors!

It works best with experiences that involve stronger emotion.

Life is nearly constantly showing us what we need to know.  Everything leads us to everything.  Signs are everywhere.

I invite you to give it a try.  What clues can you find about your life path?

Footnote explanations to underlined metaphors:

[1] Similar to my dislikes of Park City in my past life – too expensive to live there and freedoms were being taken away due to too many people moving in.

[2] I left the familiar routine and places in my life, opting to explore the unknown.

[3] I really don’t know where my path will take me, but it eventually gets easier.

[4] Once I chose this new path, there’s no stopping or turning back, or I’ll just end up stuck.

[5] I have felt ungrounded, not knowing where I am in life as I travel into the unknown.  And yes, my mind has definitely catastrophized the situation!

[6] Stop & reassess when you feel lost and can’t see the path ahead clearly.  Sometimes the path to something familiar and safe, or to a comfort zone, can seem long.

[7] I have to keep moving forward.  There’s no turning back.

[8] Life would never send me this way if I couldn’t make it.  There may be some rough patches, but I don’t have to do it alone – help will always arrive when needed.  I am adequately equipped, even if it doesn’t seem like it sometimes, to make the journey.  All will be okay.