As I made my way to the train station yesterday morning, I came upon an immense swath of sidewalk that had obviously not been shoveled or salted at all during recent snow- and rainfalls here in New York City. The sidewalk was as smooth as a freshly-Zamboni-ed baby’s bottom. I found myself treading very carefully, practically iceskating in my Dr. Marten’s, desperately trying to remain upright. In fact, I looked for the rough spots, any place where I could gain a little traction for the sake of both safety and efficiency.
I began to wonder, is smooth sailing always desirable? I am not so sure. Mistakes add character. Debates help us learn more about both sides. Surprises and interruptions in our expectations of perfection teach lessons. As a scientific term, friction keeps things upright. And, a battery can operate because it contains two opposing charges that create a current, a current we can tap into for energy.
Which type of path requires more mindfulness? Rough spots require concentration on the task at hand or the path ahead; rough spots encourage mindfulness. But, so does the smooth sailing. There was a higher risk of losing control – a wrong movement, too long of a stride, could send me sprawling at any minute. The placement of the weight of my body in my feet was important; I had to concentrate intensely on my body as well as on a path that hadn’t been roughed up yet.
As we make our way through the paths of life, we often look to the lessons of those who have gone before. Pioneers hit the rough patches and inform those following behind. Charting new territory can be more challenging.
Do the rough patches teach me more, require me to work harder? Or do the unadulterated, yet-to-be-pioneered paths?