11 January 2011
DRIVING IN THE RUTS
Atlanta, the city I call home, is currently in the throes of a winter storm. Snow, sleet, freezing rain, ice – in the last 48 hours, we have received it all. And even though winter storms are becoming more of the norm as opposed to the abnormal, the city still ain’t prepared. Cars abandoned on the interstates, grocery stores running out of essential foods, streets covered with a layer of ice-snow-ice – it’s an absolute mess out there. Over and over, the news broadcasters have been advising people to stay home and off the roads. But people are hard-headed and the newscasts have been full of accidents and mishaps and mayhem.
From Sunday evening until Tuesday afternoon, I was obedient. I stayed my happy behind at home, in the warmth and comfort of my home. I advocated the staying at home to all my friends and family. “It ain’t worth risking your life to drive anywhere in this mess.” But as the temp moved slowly towards (and above) 32º, and I could hear the snow melting and dripping off the eaves of my house, cabin fever hit and I had to get out! Armed with a movie rental that needed to be returned, I bundled up and headed out.
As I drove out of my driveway, down the street and around the corner, I noticed that some of my neighbors had ventured out before me – gouging deep tire ruts into the slushy mixture on the roads. I also noticed that as I drove in the ruts left behind by those drivers who went before me, I had more traction and grip and didn’t slide as much as I navigated the roads. Seeing some of my neighbors pull into their driveway, I rolled down my window and asked, “how are the roads?” “Once you get to Covington Highway, the roads are clear. Just stay in the ruts until then and you will be fine.” It was good advice. I followed it and had no problems making it to the grocery store, where I returned my RedBox movie rental and picked up a few “necessities” for the next 24 hours trapped in my house.
Too often we think of “ruts” as bad things – things to be avoided. How many times have you admonished yourself (or a friend) that you/they need to “get out of the rut”? Try something new. Do something exciting. All that is good and I don’t mean to imply that we should not do that. But sometimes, when you are navigating tricky terrain, you need to walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before. That is why I feel there is value in having friends who are older than you. (And I mean, decades older – not just a few months). Our elders have traveled the roads we are now traveling and have a wealth of wisdom to offer – whether it is career advice or parenting skills or even how to have a full, rich prayer life. Sit at their feet and listen – you will be amazed at what you can learn.
There is a time and place to “forge your own path” – to “make your own way”. But there are other times when “driving in the ruts” is the safest and best course of action.
© 2011 Kristina E. Smith
Tuesday, January 11, 2011