Life Lessons I've Learned from Riding Trails: Part 1

Greetings from Moab, Utah! We're on our third annual camping trip to the area, and we've come to ride its hundreds of miles of off-road trails since the trails close to our Montana home are still buried under several feet of snow.

Riding has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember (I got my first four-wheeler at age ten), and I've noticed that trails have taught me some meaningful life lessons worth sharing.

1. Trail systems have easy, moderate, and difficult paths. 
Life mirrors this variety, and by acknowledging it, we validate our own path and the paths of others. 

2. Some trails are mapped perfectly; others are incomplete or incorrect; still others are not even on the map! Recognizing this about your life can free you to explore and chart your own path.

3. Trails can be a mix of bumpy and smooth, flat and steep, level and tippy, or rocky and sandy. The best part of knowing this is that you can expect life to be interesting and adapt to the terrain, and though you may not like the current conditions, if you stay on the path long enough, they will likely change.

4. Some trails start off in one direction, then make a turn that leads away from where you intended to go; conversely, some start by going the opposite way, then take you back home. We've all been there - you plan your life for a certain direction, but then the path takes a U-turn. And some of us know what it's like to think you're on the wrong road in life, only to have it lead to a beautiful opportunity. Be patient with yourself.

5. If you get lost, use landmarks to guide you back on the right path. The landmarks in life are sometimes more difficult to identify, but they are often found in friends, community groups, churches, and family. Look for the consistent, steady people to guide you.

6. If you get on a trail that is too difficult, is a dead-end, or doesn’t lead where you want to go, it’s okay to turn around. Sometimes we choose a path in life that doesn't end well. Instead of continuing on out of pride, stubbornness, or loyalty, stop and turn back.

7. Sometimes if you’ve been on a difficult trail long enough, even though you’d like to turn around, it’s better just to keep going forward. Yes, your chosen path can be difficult, but sometimes it's more painful or difficult to turn around and go back over what you've just come through. In this case, you're better off moving forward. This is the flip-side to lesson #6. Your inner wisdom will help you find the balance.

8. Some trails have blind corners, or blind hills; slow down and trust that the path goes on. I like to see where I'm going, so when I'm riding a trail and it peaks at the top of a hill with nothing in sight but blue sky and clouds, I get scared and tend to question where I'm headed. This happens in my life, too. When I can't see where my life is taking me, I have to remember to trust that the path will continue.This is one lesson I have to keep learning!

What kinds of things have taught you life lessons?

Which trail lesson resonates with you?

Two doorways from this week:
  • Last night on our first ride here, it was under a piercing blue sky over the red desert.
  • While stopped for the night on our way to Utah, I sat in a dog park and watched a lone filament of a spider's web float on the breeze and catch the sunlight.


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