Life is a river that flows in one direction. Onward. As a youth you enjoy the speed and excitement as the current pushes you from one experience to the next. Learning to read. Write. Speak. It’s exhilarating.
As you get older, the impulse is to try to hold back those river horses. Consolidate what you’ve learned. You’ve spent years learning everything you think you will need to know in this life, then everything changes. And that can really throw you. You have to start again. Again.
But life, the simple definition of which no two sciences or theologies fully agree on, doesn’t care about your last ten years. Or that your career just became surplus to requirements. Or even that you were replaced by a software update. It just flows onward. This thing we call life, simply is.
If you try to hold back the river you are likely to drown. Or at the very least, look quite silly. The better thing to do, therefore, is go with the flow. See where it takes you. Onward.
In life, metaphorically and otherwise, we come up against dead ends. Some, you just cannot overcome. Others, you can. Since I was a child I have not tried to fly by jumping from a roof and waving my arms. I may be wrong but I still believe that would end badly.
I have, however, continued to learn new skills every year, and will for as long as I can. I have changed horses in mid-stream more times than most. Primarily, because I enjoy it. Learning new skills keeps me fresh, and helps me move into the future to face new challenges. Onward.
From grease monkey to sales, purchasing, logistics, customer service, training, photography, and a lot of in-between along the way, I discovered one simple truth many years ago. Learning one way to do things does not mean it will always be the only way; just ask a film photographer. So I’m adaptable. Open to change. To my mind, it’s the only logical move we have.
Case In Point
Case in point: I like to get out and explore. Growing in to a career producing print materials, web, and video designs, I adopted a camera as a tool of the job. Beyond that, I use it for event and landscape photography – some of which you can see at http://photos.gystservices.com.
While doing all this, I fell in love with the camera as a tool for relaxation and fun. I spend much of my down time driving around taking photos. My camera is my constant companion, providing solace and peace while it records my adventures. I drive for hours. Just drive. This is my explanation of how and why I found myself on a No Exit road, face to face with this particular sign.
When I saw it, I smiled. Because the limits had been set. The challenge was before me.
One look into the wilderness and I knew I could go further. So I did.
I took my fate into my own hands and drove on. Taking this cautionary sign at it’s word I proceeded carefully, navigating around deep ruts, potentially deeper standing water, fallen trees and the encroachment of nature on all sides. And, a half mile or so later, came out the other side.
No worries. This was a calculated risk. As a commercial driver for years I know my own limits and those of any vehicle I drive. I felt comfortable knowing I could back out, navigating hazards in reverse. I knew the clearance under my car. I’d checked Google Maps satellite view for obvious dangers, and knew exactly where I would emerge. I had cell signal to call for a truck and knew which way to walk to the nearest road if I had to. Risk management 101: Know your exits. This is perhaps not as romantic as the thought of diving headfirst into the wilderness, but hey. I’m adventurous, not stupid. I took stock of the situation. Then took a leap of faith.
My reward was seeing things not visible from the well-traveled road. Three does, a stag, squirrels and birds and strange buzzing insects beyond number. An abandoned barn. Wild chickens. Wild turkeys. Rabbits.
All because I was a little adventurous, and faced a new minor challenge. Despite what this sign said, the road did not end here. The real road, just like the the river of life, flows onward. And I’m still driving it. Or going with the flow. I have to stop mixing metaphors. Comedic juxtaposition and humorous silliness aside…
I can recommend getting out of your own comfort zone sometimes. When the asphalt ends, or the river of life takes an unexpected turn, try to at least keep your head above water and go with the flow. Do something new, every day. Make your own road. It’s very rewarding. It keeps you young. It’s worth it.
Writing down all these deep thoughts has taken quite a lot out of me. I need some down time now, I think. I think I shall go for a drive.