Although written just about a year ago, the message is still the same, and yes, still relevent. We can often find ourselves teetering on the top of some precarious slope in life, and wondering a couple of things. How did I get here? What should I do now? What are the consequences if I simply plunge forward?
Without stating the obvious, that is one ice-covered slick and smooth slope!
Back in the winter Lynn and I were out hiking and photographing Hatchery Falls in north Muskoka. When out there, I came across this long ice wall on a cliff face at the top of the small valley the Skeleton River flows through.
Although not overly high or impressive we both found it neat and each of us was more than willing to hike, slip and at times crawl on our hands and knees to check it out.
The thing that was most intriguing and the thing that was calling us to explore more was this opening near the top of the ice wall.
In the first picture, that enticing call of adventure presented by the ice cave opening is just behind a few branches in the upper third of the photo. Although the picture doesn’t portray the scale very well, I’m 6′ 2″ and if I laid on the slope of the ice wall and my arms stretched out, I would just be able to tuck my hands into the edge of the cave opening.
Although we both wanted to have a peek inside the cave, it just wasn’t going to happen that day. Melting ice and snow from above had the ice wall slicker than one can possibly imagine. One wrong move and it would have been a quick slippery trip down to the bottom.
Sometimes, in life, we can find ourselves at the top of an icy slope or worse be hurtling down one wildly out of control with certain disaster awaiting us when we finally crash in a tangled mess at the bottom.
How often have we been perched seemingly at a juncture in our lives, peering down what we know will likely result in chaos and carnage in our life and in the lives of those around us, yet we still go ahead and take a step?
At those times, when teetering at the top and deciding what to do, we’re usually presented with a couple of choices.
Or, the alternative. Taking a step and then seeing what happens next.
In my mind, the apex of the slippery slope we encounter or worse create ourselves are the choices made at that critical point and the time leading up to that.
Much like standing at the top of a triple black diamond ski run in the mountains and the drooling about the good times of the apres-skiing drinks and fun at the bottom, we give no thought at all about what lies in front of us.
All we’re thinking is “good times ahead – get to the bottom and pop the cap off” that first frosty cold one. The problem here is I didn’t mention is this is our first-day skiing…..ever. Perhaps at some earlier point, we should have made some better choices for that last run. Now, we have just a couple of options available.
Ideally, we need to take a step back; re-evaluate how to get down to the bottom of the run alive. Secondly, we can push off the top and start down a black-diamond run we have no place to be on and hope that our life insurance has been paid up.
We stand at the top and see something or imagine we see something and without thinking about the consequences we take that one tiny inconsequential step that starts to propel us down a slippery slope of destruction.
Life is full of choices. Once we take a step and head down a slope we shouldn’t be on, Newton’s First Law of Physics takes quickly over – “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”
Once we start careening down a slope where we have no place to be, it’s hard, maybe impossible to stop.
Life certainly isn’t without challenges. All of us would be naive to assume we will never find ourselves teetering at the edge of a slope destined for a result that we thought would never occur or taking the step and praying that the odds are in our favour for once.
I often wonder if at that point it isn’t already too late? That perhaps the inevitable is going to occur anyway.
Yup, life is full of challenges. Some present themselves un-expectantly and without any doing on our part, while others evolve entirely from our own choices.
I guess the question becomes, can we keep ourselves from even getting to the edge of a spot we really shouldn’t be in the first place and if we do, what decisions do we finally make once we’re there?
On the other hand, are we wired as human beings to seek out “looks like good times ahead – get to the bottom and pop the cap off that first frosty cold one.”
Perhaps we just can’t help ourselves? Not sure.
Just a thought.