Are you stuck? I grew up on a farm where it rained for a weeks on end in the spring, and no matter where you set foot it was muck. The entrance into the barnyard was a mess of deep ruts filled with water, and thick sludge churned up by wide treaded tractor tires. I operated the gate into the barnyard where Dad fed cows. It sounds easy when I say operated. It sounds mechanical. I laugh. At Dad’s signal, I drag the elephantine gate open while squishy clay sucks at my boots with high-powered suction. It attempts to hold me in place. The mud is strong. I step out of a boot, and land sock footed into the slimy ooze. I sink up to my knees. It’s a bad day to be a gate operator. Dad splashes driving through the gate. I slop my way back with a boot on one foot, and a dangling muddy sock on the other. My stuck boot is full of water almost submerged. I look towards the cows and see one considering the half opened gate. She lowers her head and begins to shuffle through the gook as quickly as she can towards the opening. I spring forward losing my sock to the slime. It is a slow motion race, me to close the gate, and the cow, to the imaginary greener grass on the other side. The tenacious texture captures my last boot and I fall forward landing with a splat into the mixture of mud and manure. The wide-eyed cow may, or may not have, flipped me a hoof as it slopped past. The memory is a blur due to Dad’s hostile hollering and fist waving.
Life on it’s bad days can be like that— difficult, and then once in a while you end up with your face full of muck. It’s far worse if you stay stock still though, your feet eventually cement into your present circumstance. Mildew moves into your crevices, and mold taking root in your ears. Then barn swallows take notice of your inactivity, and make nests in your hair. If you stay stuck long enough, you’ll see the eggs hatch. At least someone will have a life.
When I look back on the mucky days, I smile. It was so hard to get moving. Yet it felt so good when it was done. It was oddly fun. I sure felt better than ole grumpy pants Dad. Forty years later I still get stuck, not in mud, but in life. I fall into habitual patterns that keep me mired. And then one day, I acknowledge I am uninspired. You know, when the days all start to seem the same, and life becomes drab. When I hear the birds chirping on my head it’s my clear sign to get out of the muck. I begin by deciding where I want to go, and then I pull my boots out of the life sucking slop one step at a time, and soon, my small steps take me into a faster moving space. Eventually I’m onto solid ground, vibrant with the energy of movement. The gate is open, and I’m racing alongside the wild-eyed cow to check the grass on the other side of the fence. And this time, even if I step out of my boots— I feel limitless.