“A rocky road.” That seems like an understatement of where I've been and where I am today. What is it about rocks? They don't (usually!) fall from the sky; they are already there, waiting to catch our toe and make us stumble. A lot of rocks, gravel or a streambed, make for very unsteady footing -- one has to step lightly and be nimble, ready to shift weight and take quick steps to keep from falling. Little rocks keep us on our toes, metaphorically and literally, and big rocks can trip us up. Then there are the boulders -- so big we have to climb over or find a way around them.
Rocky roads are prone to landslides and washouts, even avalanches. A tiny pebble or patch of snow and ice breaks loose and tumbles downhill, really following the path of least resistance, gathering more rocks or snow, until it becomes a devastating force of nature; one we cannot stop or even survive if we are in its path.
This last year has been like the aftermath of a rockslide. Forces of nature that I could not anticipate or control swept over the smooth path of the life that I had planned. The path I was on is blocked by boulder, and it is now lost to me. The paths around the boulder look like mine fields, full of unseen hazards and pitfalls. Every step is a choice and a new direction.
Many years ago, Jim, Kevin, and I visited Hawaii. We walked lava flows that looked like lunar scenes, black and barren, devoid of life, even in the form of bugs or birds. Those are landscapes one wants to hurry to cross over, seeking the comfort of life on the other side. The early months after a catastrophic loss are like that. I remember feeling like I had landed on the moon, on a dark and unfriendly surface where everything familiar was missing.
How does one navigate such a desolate path? Step lightly and move carefully forward, believing that there is a path, however hard to see.
Know that this is a temporary touch down, not a permanent landing. Believe that there is more, that this path will lead you to a different place, not the same place you were before, not better or worse, just different.