Let it Snow! (What I’ve Learned About Ruts)

Let it Snow! (What I’ve Learned About Ruts)

It’s snowing in Bend (yay!) and there are ruts are everywhere: the main streets, the heavily travelled sidewalks, popular trails and, ahem, my life. Sometimes, these ruts are helpful — treading a worn-in path can be less treacherous than forging your own, plus the well-worn path seems safer: other people traversed this ground and didn’t perish. But sometimes the common paths are slick and dangerous (or boring). Choices, choices, choices.

I have a slightly reckless disposition (all of us have this impulse, I just tend to follow it more often than “normal” people), so I go out of the way to avoid ruts, my own, and others. I hike almost every day, and it’s rare that I take the same route more than once. One of my favorite things in the world is tromping through a pristine field of freshly fallen snow, even if that “field” is a snowy slope and I end up tumbling down said slope. This applies to non-snowy situations too. If I’m hiking a wide, well-maintained trail (thank you Bend Parks & Rec), and see the hint of a little footpath heading off into the forest, something compels me to explore it.

There’s a painfully obvious metaphor here. Do you get excited about veering off the predictable path or does it scare the crap out of you? Are you simply grateful that others blazed a trail and thankful you can follow in their tracks? Most of us can switch back and forth between trailblazer and trail follower with relative ease, but are we being mindful about the choice? Autopilot is necessary and healthy sometimes, but not choosing is a choice.

I’m hesitant to label either approach as good or bad. Whether you stay on the trail, or blaze your own, hopefully you’re being true to yourself. Clearly there are good choices and bad choices (see: snowy slope), but they’re your choices, no one else’s. Whether you like it or not, life is an unpredictable adventure. Mistakes and failures are the price of admission. Sometimes choosing the safe route is a mistake. Sometimes taking the risk is a mistake. You have only your instincts to guide you and then the consequences from which to learn.

Are you choosing the path that reflects who you are? Or are you just going with the flow? Is fear motivating your choices and causing you to stay where it seems safe? Is your trailblazer ego motivating your risky choices when you really just want to cruise along on the arterials for a while?

I’ve noticed lately that while I seek out the undiscovered physical places, I’m in something of a rut in my personal life. To be accurate, I’m at a stand still. I’m looking at my choices and vacillating between uncharted territory and familiar paths. Not choosing is actually the greatest evil. Paralysis… which choice is best? Which one do I want? I don’t know. Okay, maybe I do, but I can instantly dismantle what I want, proving why my “wants” are a bad idea.

For me, the familiar path is a proper job, with health insurance, regular hours, a predictable steady paycheck — in essence, stability. The uncharted territory is continuing to freelance as a copywriter and jewelry designer. The latter path has none of the stable perks but allows me the freedom and creative challenges I crave. I wish it was as simple as eeny meeny miney mo. But since I can’t play roshambo with myself, I’ve been mostly sitting in my house, half-heartedly job hunting, moping  and wallowing in indecision.

This weekend, my friend Trek rolled into Bend in a 1969 van dubbed “Chief Joseph” and unknowingly shook me out of my paralysis. I’ll write more about Trek and his trailblazing adventure in another post, but we spent the weekend exploring the “Good in Bend,” (an extension of his “Good in America” tour).

I tagged along while Trek explored my new hometown and found myself inspired. It’s not hard to find goodness around here, but I got out of my rut and met people I wouldn’t have met otherwise and visited places that I normally just drive past. 

Now this does nothing to solve my larger life dilemma, but Trek’s visit shaped the way I look at this blog and even this town. I’m more excited than ever to explore the juicy goodness of Bend, and share it here… I’m looking forward to seeking out the people who are making our world and our community a little better, whether they’re traveling a traditional path or traipsing around in uncharted territory. And of course, I’m a sucker for great food and beautiful sights so I’ll share all things yummy, pretty and fun here too…

Who knows where my official “career” (I use that term verrrrrrrrrry loosely) will take me, and if I’ll take a “real” job or stay on the riskier freelance writer path but I’m grateful to feel inspired again and to be moving in a direction. Writing these blog posts may not be a career, but it’s movement of a sort, even if I have no idea what lies around the next corner and sometimes crave the comfort of a rut to guide my way…

One thought on “Let it Snow! (What I’ve Learned About Ruts)

  1. I found your blog from my interest in also relocating to Bend from a big city. Because I have recently found myself heavily in a rut, this post yelled at me. So many similar thoughts have been going through my head. Great blog!

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