Stuck in Place

“To be human – to be alive – is to fall into patterns of behavior. Some of these patterns are good. We are drawn to the comfort of routine, and we settle in, but there can also be a discomfort in going through the same motions. Just as slumping for hours in the same position can be bad for our backs, it is also true that taking the familiar and repetitive path of least resistance can cause our lives to become a bit stuck in place.”

     On the television show Extreme Sports, I once saw an interview with a woman snowboarder who performed daring maneuvers that most rational beings would consider dangerous. When asked about this she replied quizzically, “Dangerous? What I do isn’t dangerous. Dangerous is getting up at the same time every morning, getting on the same bus, going to the same office, doing the same work. That,” she claimed emphatically, “is dangerous.”

     Clearly, dangerous activities do not pertain only to those that might injure our body, for the repetition that this young woman was referring to can have a harmful effect on our souls. When this occurs, we may find ourselves moving through our days on autopilot – going through the motions, skimming the surface, relating in unthinking and perhaps uncaring ways. This may feel safe and comfortable, but it can also render us lifeless.

     It’s been said that the difference between a rut and a grave is the dimensions! Patterns, routines, and repetition, are to some degree necessary and even good, for they can enable us to function efficiently when what is required of us is tedious. But when our patterns become ruts, when we drift into a kind of mind and heart-numbing malaise, it’s time for resurrection.

     I have found that rising from ruts is in part, about trusting – in God, in the universe, in our best self. It is not a matter of changing our ways, but having a change of heart. It is not about exercising willpower, but humbly acknowledging that we are powerless when it comes to what matters most. When we “become a bit stuck in place” we would do well to patiently and compassionately begin taking the sometimes tenuous first steps toward becoming more alive, even if we are uncertain about where we will end up.

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