Walking On Ice: A Metaphor
I believe we are all walking on ice.
On the half-mile walk to the village core of my Colorado town, the late-November road surface is unseasonal. Instead of its customary blanket of packed snow, I am walking on ice. I realize I must walk with care, that it is possible to slip and fall on this stuff. My concentration all the way to town focuses on the next few steps to decide the best places to set my feet. My path begins to weave as I pick my way to the least hazardous of the choices before me. I like being upright.
I encounter crusty ice, mixed with churned remnants of old snow transformed by the freeze-thaw of the recent weather. I encounter places where the sand laid down by last week’s plow has pocked the frozen slush. I encounter thick solid ice, unapologetic and ready to take me down. I am careful to use the relatively more secure footing. I definitely avoid the big patches of what looks like safe pavement but is instead black ice.
The way is textured. Sometimes it is smooth (but dangerous), sometimes crunchy-rutted (slightly less dangerous), sometimes edged by mud and grass. But the fact remains: I am walking on ice. Dangerous, true, but the walk to town is necessary and, besides, life itself is dangerous, whether it’s at my feet or swirling more vaguely out there in today’s ethers. Danger isn’t the problem. The problem is failing to live because there are hazards in the world.
We are all walking on ice.
In the individual moments of our lives, each of us faces endless choices about how to move forward. We don’t—can’t–always know whether things will go well or not. Sometimes others make decisions for us (often in ways we can’t predict and that can evolve in a very bad way). This is a heartache and tragedy we’ve seen too much recently (think #MeToo, think Las Vegas, think...).
Ice. It’s all ice.
Even knowing that sometimes terrifying unpredictabilities are poised to derail us, what else can we do, then, but try to make the best possible decisions based on the information at hand? Successfully managing the endless choices is a matter of gathering information and sifting the possibilities. Shall I move onto the grass and mud? How can I avoid that slick patch?
I’m interested in the judgment and wisdom and grace that underlie a choice, the consciousness behind a decision. I’m interested in learning what I need to know in order to make logical and informed choices. I’m interested in growing my own tolerance for the adversity of icy conditions, and building my skills to handle the sometimes frightful things life brings.
Luckily, I have been blessed to have excellent teachers and guides and mentors to help me. I have also gained abundant life experience. This eclectic education has taught me the value of seeking deliberate, balanced choices, of paying close attention. So many times, I have been guilty of making knee-jerk decisions. Sometimes they work out. Sometimes they don’t. Those lessons typically end up reminding me (sometimes roughly) how I wasn’t thinking.
The point is, as Yoda said, “do or do not. There is no try.” Do get out the door; do take those walks, even when they involve ice. Don’t let the fear of the dangers stop you. Live.
May you walk safely on your ice.