Life can be a dirt road

Published 12:52 pm Monday, April 14, 2008

By Staff
Life hands me opportunities to practice patience. I don't always treat them as opportunities, and most times I don't even recognize the opportunity until it passes.
My most recent “opportunity” involves mud, lots of wet red clay mud. For 21 years I've lived at the end of a dirt road. Its condition alternates between bumpy with swirling clouds of dust to soupy with slippery slopes.
Over the years, the hope of it evolving from primitive trail to modern, paved and passable all the time came and went. When the two roads on either side of ours got a shiny black covering, I got excited. Could we be next?
Alas, it is not yet our fate to enjoy the smooth ride of paving, and so we keep bumping along. Most of the time that is fairly fine, a little frustrating, but fine.
Then came last weekend's rain. As I headed out Saturday morning, I held hopes that the rain was hard enough to wash the red clay down to a harder surface, hopefully not one filled with too many gullies.
My wishes did not come true. Approaching the narrowest part of the road, I felt the slip of tires as my vehicle struggled to stay straight. With a prayer and some maneuvering, I made it out without incident.
Later I faced a return trip and by this time others had ventured out. Coupled with steady rain, the red clay road was now more of a red clay sliding board. Hitting the deep mud, I felt the car sliding to the side. After coming to almost a complete stop, I inched my way over the worst spots, praying I would not meet another car.
At home I sighed and let go of my grip on the steering wheel, vowing not to make anymore trips until the road dried out. Later in the day a neighbor called to ask about the condition of our road because hers, which is located just on the other side of ours, was apparently a disaster area.
Her son's vehicle was stuck on their road. Another neighbor got stuck on our road and needed rescuing. Hearing this I felt gratitude for getting home without the aid of a wrecker.
Now for the patience part. First, roads dry out in their own time. A desire for it to happen does not rush or hurry the process. Thus, I had an opportunity to practice patiently waiting.
Still, I hope for something better. I dream of meeting another vehicle on the road and having room to pass instead of either inching by each other or coming to a stop and waiting for the other person get by.
But, I am doing my best to look at this road situation as my chance to be patient and not overreact. It is not easy because I have been the queen of overreaction. I was ready for confrontation, ready to state my case and make something happen.
My red clay road is teaching me that you can't improve something by fighting it. You can't attack a river of slippery muck without ending up in a ditch. You can't dry up a muddy mess with anger and frustration.
That said I am sitting in stillness this morning, meditating on patience, but also listening withexpectation for the welcoming beep of road equipment.
Wait, do I hear a beep