February 4, 2015

Life Under Construction

The road to success is always under construction.
-Attributed to so many that no one is getting credit :) 

Being from the Midwest, there's a running joke that all Midwesterner's understand well. It is that despite what many believe we really only have 2 seasons - winter and construction. It's a truth that the road crews are out repairing the or replacing worn out pavement for 3/4 of the year!

I don't need to explain to anyone the joys of traveling during "construction" season. It may take 2 hours or 5 hours to get to Chicago from where I live depending on:

1. How many road crews are out.

2. How much notice we're given before the number of lanes is reduced.

3. How nicely people are playing "merge." 

4. Who's decided to check Twitter, Email, or Facebook, thus rear ending the person in front of them.

5. How many people behind those two were also checking social media sites. 

6. How long it takes the tow trucks to move all of those vehicles off the road.

7. How fascinating watching the tow truck move those vehicles seems to those passing by.

All in all getting from point A to point B can be a frustrating experience, and yet we still get into our cars, go onto the roadways, and roll the dice. It makes me wonder: Are we all just nuts or is where we're going really worth the trouble?

The construction story above isn't just "a tale of terrible traffic." It's a metaphor for our lives. No matter where our journey is headed, we can be sure of just as many unpredictable circumstances along the way. For as long as we're alive we can count on pot holes, detours, and constant construction and reconstruction - and I believe that's all as it should be.

I am a new convert to the the idea that life unfolds as it should and not as we have planned. I believe that it's not in the moments of everything being "hunkie dorie" where we do our best "living." It's the moments when the floor has just dropped from beneath us and we find ourselves in a terrifying free fall.

Those unwanted and unexpected moments draw out the best and worst of us. They reach deep inside us - past all that's rehearsed, scripted, and polished and right into the rawness of who we are. With relentless claws, change and adversity drags our inner selves out into the bright light of day - where maybe for the first time, we have to face what's there.

Once our souls are laid bare in the scorching heat, we have choices to make. We will either sink or swim. It's from our sheer determination or our refusal to take up the fight that our future will begin to unfold.

I've done both. I've sunk. Boy have I sunk - till my feet could feel the warm softness of the murky bottom that waited to draw me peacefully to my end. 

I've swam. I've fought the brave fight. I've fought the cowards fight. I've fought until I've become so exhausted that I couldn't  even remember how the battle began but kept fighting from the sheer momentum of the struggle - often to learn that whatever it was, wasn't worth fighting for. 

My point is this: each time life has thrown me into a "construction zone," regardless of how I rose or sank to the challenge, my life expanded as a result. 

Through the construction zones I've grown. Whether by force, self reflection or just sheer necessity, I have grown. I'd go as far as to say that I would never have grown as much or as quickly by any other means than to have had it thrust upon me by circumstances outside my control.

I'm no martyr. I'm not a particularly great sufferer so to think I'd purposely subject myself willingly to discomfort - even for the sake of growth is a stretch. For that reason I'm grateful for forces outside myself that know what I need to learn and how to make sure I get educated.

Just as the winter brings the end of the construction season with the accompanying smooth pavement, so does life's construction seasons come to a temporary end. The trick is learning to accept its "temporary" nature. It's when we allow ourselves to believe that the tearing apart and rebuilding is finished that we can be blindsided when it starts up again.

Instead, let's take the off seasons to contemplate how we did at navigating the detours. Where did we succeed brilliantly? Where did we end up in the ditch or on the backside of a tow truck? How well did we play "merge?" What did we learn about our strengths? Our weaknesses? Were we paying attention or had we checked out momentarily? Are we the ones who stopped to stare at the those off the road or did we stay focused and moving forward? (Both have been true for me.)

So yes, it could be that we are all nuts because we continue to throw the dice and get back onto the roadways of our lives, but I prefer to believe that where we're going makes the getting there very worthwhile.

In life, we have two seasons. Are you ready?


  1. I am so ready! Thanks for sharing these thoughts.
    I was discussing with a friend a few days ago how our lives turn out vs. how we envisioned it. Really far from what we used to dream of. But I believe, it's so much better.

  2. You're so right Lux. I'm so glad that I never got some of the things I thought I wanted! I love that old saying: Be careful what you wish for. You might get it." Glad you're ready!

  3. Anita, I've become a recent convert of the idea that life doesn't really begin until the moment our knees hit the floor. Great post!

    1. That's so true Suzan. Sad that it's so hard to feel that way as we're crumbling. For me it's taken retrospect to see all the blessings and growth that have been the result of the fall.