Life’s Smooth and Bumpy Roads : Spiritual Guidance Blog
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Life’s Smooth and Bumpy Roads

by Robert Meagher on 03/06/23

Photo Credit: - Tom Fisk

Once again, this month I am going to use my passion for cycling to retell a recent adventure. The cycling adventure held within its teachings a wonderful metaphor for life.

I was out for one of my day-long rides. I went back to an area that I had explored a few weeks earlier. At a point in my ride, I had the choice of turning north on March Road, but I had found March Road to be both bumpy and heavy in car traffic—not a good combination for safe riding. So, this time around, I decided to cycle further west so that I could take another route north.

I cycled west to Panmure, along Upper Dwyer Hill Road, and turned North on Panmure Road. I immediately felt this was a much better route north, over the Carp Ridge. The road was quiet and had little car traffic. I was also pleasantly surprised that the road was very smooth. What a difference from the other route north! I was so glad I had cycled further west so I could turn north on Panmure Road.

Panmure Road turned into the Donald B. Munro Drive that had me, eventually, cross over the Carp Road. On the north side of Carp Road, my smooth ride came to an end. The Donald B. Munro Drive became bumpy and full of cracks. As long as I was cycling on the flats, it wasn’t too bad. But if I found myself cycling downhill, the chatter from the bumpy road really took its toll on my body. My whole upper body would shake and tremor from the cracks in the road. Fortunately, the car traffic remained light and I could cycle out more to the centre of the road where the asphalt was a little smoother. As I approached Dunrobin, the road smoothed out again. Once I turned on to Dunrobin Robin, there was a nice, smooth paved shoulder to cycle on.

As I quietly made my way back toward home on smooth road surfaces, I smiled at the experience that took me from Upper Dryer Hill Road to Dunrobin Road, along Panmure Road and the Donald B. Munro Drive. The road started out smooth, then became uncomfortably rough, then smoothed out again. What a beautiful metaphor for life!

Sometimes in our lives everything goes smoothly. We glide along with few, if any, obstructions. The wind can feel like its at our backs, pushing us along. We experience a smooth ride through life. Then, unexpectedly, through no seeming fault or cause of our own making, we encounter bumps in the road that can really take a toll on us. We go through periods of ‘bumpy rides’ before life calms down again.

Life can seem like that sometimes, can’t it? Smooth and effortless, then bumpy roads that have us holding on tight. To navigate these ups and downs in life I have found the Buddhist practice of the ‘middle way’ to be helpful. The middle way may be described as an approach to life where we avoid extremes. This approach includes extremes in emotions and thought.

As I turned on to Panmure Road and gave thanks for a smoother surface than March Road to take me north, I knew that ‘this too shall change.’ As I crossed over the Carp Road and the Donald B. Munro Drive became bumpy, I knew that ‘this too shall change.’ While I was grateful for the smooth road surface on Panmure Road, I knew better than to be jubilant. While I was feeling uncomfortable with the bumpiness on the Donald B. Munro Drive, I knew better than to be dejected. I knew the road surface would change from what it currently was.

The gift of life is inherent in our ability to learn how to be happy where we are, instead of trying to be happy where we are not. We have a tendency to wish away the present moment by wishing we were somewhere else. If I’m on a bumpy road, my tendency may be to wish I was on a smoother road surface. But that bumpy road is teaching me something; something that is important for me to learn. Can I sink into that awareness and welcome the experience, no matter how uncomfortable it may be?

Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.

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