Gate by Gate: Navigating the Slalom Course of Life
Sometimes you just have to do things in order. First things first. No exceptions.
Oh, I want to put things behind me and just “get on with it.” But life is not a ‘now we join our regularly scheduled program, already in progress’ experience. Stuff happens. Sometimes it is big stuff, and we need to put on the brakes, step off the roller coaster, and put that big item at the top of our to-do list. Everything else takes a seat. Not a back sat, mind you, but its place tossed with everything else in the trunk. You’ll unscramble it later.
Well, God-willing, the later does come. You unlatch the trunk and everything you were doing, everything everybody wanted you to do, and everything you had big plans for smiles up at you. It’s like a trunk full of golden retriever puppies, wagging and whining and hoping you’ll pick them up first. It is very tempting to just fling yourself in the trunk and submit to death by licking.
But that would be self-serving and irresponsible, so you resist. Instead, you stand there and try to decide which puppy to pick up. Which needs me the most? Which is clamoring for attention? Perhaps if I just clear a few away, either by pushing them to the side or setting them free to run around, then I’ll see the one who is really meant for me. (Honest aside: we have been looking at puppies) While that sounds like a terrific strategy, it isn’t working. And I think it’s because there’s an order to things: first things first, no exceptions.
I have uncovered this as I have tried to move on to the “next thing” but been prevented. This is not to say that I am twiddling my thumbs until a light bulb illuminates and I know just what to do. It is more that I am trying to mount several stairs at a time and something reminds me to take just one. And because life seems to be moving so fast at present, today it feels like I am on the slalom course, moving at break-neck speed, and the forces of nature unite with the rule-makers to remind me that I must go around each gate on the blue course to stay in the competition.
What I had been trying to do is join the racers, already in progress. Skip the first few gates and catch up with my friends. Nope. But please, won’t you take pity on me? I got a late start, had some trouble with my bindings, my goggles fogged up, I…please?
But the longer I wait in the starting gate, the further behind I get. So I blast out and cut my turns as sharply as I can around one blue gate, then another. I’m pretty good through three, but the slope steepens and I’m picking up speed. I miss the fourth gate altogether, whizzing past without turning, and the fifth gate is upon me in a split second. Might as well continue; perhaps no one will notice. It can’t be helped.
Yes it can. I slam on the brakes just shy of the fifth gate and sidestep up the mountain. Gate #4 demands navigating. Something about its terrain, its pace, or its trajectory is designed to teach me, heal me, and lead me into Gate 5. Everything in order, all the way to the finish line if you want a score and maybe a chance at a medal.
So, while death by licking has its appeal, life in an ordered course is being exacted from me now. Articles, emails, meetings, phone calls, they’re my gates. Each in order. Now to establish that rhythm…