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Lessons from the Wilderness (Vol. 2)

See this kind of rickety looking bridge?

A 13-mile hiking adventure with my husband took me here last weekend. This particular spot was 4.5 miles into the backcountry.

The bridge bounced as I stepped onto it. The top safety rung for hand gripping was missing. It traversed fast-moving water over a slippery rock slide. Falling wouldn't necessarily mean fatal peril, but definitely a broken limb, a fractured sense of pride and a long way back to the car (and then even longer mileage back to cell service).

I felt a weight of anxiety grip my chest when I felt its instability. I started crossing the bridge with laser-like focus on reaching the other side. I just wanted to get past the damn thing as quickly as possible, have solid ground beneath my feet, and keep moving towards the final destination.

Yet, the moment I stepped off the bridge I heard my husband, walking behind me, yell out: "Whitney! Stop, look at the waterfall. Isn't it beautiful?"

As I walked back onto the shaky bridge and looked at the cascading water from the cliff above, a sense of awe washed over me. In my fear and strong urge to end the uncomfortable traverse as quickly as I could, I missed the beauty that imperfect bridge offered: you could only get a good view of the waterfall right smack in the middle of it. The sight rooted me in the present moment and anxiety melted away.

Life's transitions and growing pains can be like this bridge: they aren't always going to be perfectly smooth. Sometimes they will feel shaky and awkward. Sometimes preferred safety and support mechanisms will be missing. Sometimes they will be high stakes and there will be consequences for failure.

Yet, don't fear an imperfect process so much that you forget to pause and take in the beauty surrounding you. Refuse to let the need of a perfect bridge get in the way of enjoying what the thrilling middle can offer. There might be something right smack in the center that roots you safely back to the present moment where your peace and power reside.

After all: life's most rickety bridges are often in the most beautiful places.

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