I find myself at the mall on Sunday, a little earlier than the usual church crowd manages, which offers a wide-open parking lot. Atypically, I decide to back into a parking space. I cut the engine then look ahead of me to a broad, extensive swath of empty parking spaces.
Now, were they not salt encrusted (thanks to snow treatment) and a bit puddly (thanks to some melted snow), I might not notice the four circles (OK, ruts), worn into the space before me.
Yes, the universe was winking at me again, serving up a most juicy quantum flirt.
I just left a conversation with a friend who talked of how he felt uncentered, ungrounded, a little lost, with no solid place that was his nor activities that appealed. That was on my mind, obviously, as I drove to the mall and my waiting quantum flirt. I was actively musing about how perhaps he’s lost himself — and by that, I mean lost the deep connection we all need with our core values, our deepest wishes, and our own right relationship with ourselves. Are we too focused on others without caring for ourselves? Are we working continuously, as the Pandemic has sometimes begat? Or are we so into our own needs and not connected to others? Or is something else askew? Perhaps our get-up-and-go seems to have slithered away.
Any such situation can shift us into continuous motion, where we never land, or into stasis, where we never seem to move.
Which brings me to my flirt in the form of these ruts so clearly outlined before me. Granted, these are circular depressions formed by countless thousands of tires from vehicles parking over and over and over again in that very location, until now, any vehicle is destined to nestle into those ruts as if it were a comfortable chair or a magnetic landing device pulling us in and locking us down. Safe? At least we know we’re there. Alien? Not in the least. Normal? You bet.
But whoa, when we go to leave, we discover our leaving requires a lot more oomph to get going, but far less energy to just stay put.
That’s inertia at work. Inertia can either keep us moving or keep us in stasis. And that’s the insidiously weird thing about inertia and ruts: it works both ways.
Inertia is Newton’s first Law of Motion: the resistance of any physical object to a change in its velocity. We do nothing and remain unchanged. When at rest, we stay at rest. When in motion, we stay in motion. That is, until something external exerts force upon us that either pushes us into motion or forces us to stop. For the chronically busy or overly other-focused, it may be sickness that stops us in our tracks. For the listless and never-starters, it may be a job loss that forces us into action.
The view outside my windshield flashes me back to that whole conversation that still meanders in my brain, and now the universe is tossing me something to crystallize my thinking. I love how that works.
I get out of my car and look at my space. Yes, there are circular ruts there too, but because I’m not such a great backer into spaces, I managed to miss them altogether. I didn’t sink into them where I parked.
And that launches another thought: I’m not currently in a place of being either unfettered nor stuck in ruts. (Although to be honest, there is a rut that is in danger of developing … and that would be my sofa, which is where I sit and look out the window into nature, greet the dawning day, and think or write or brainstorm. While productive, I might like the experience a little too much, because I can also scroll Facebook, Instagram, play WORDLE, or sudoku. There’s a great reminder for me, here, too.
Regardless, those alien-like ruts start me on a whole journey of contemplating my friend’s voiced concern, which veers into how we find our way out of ruts and into a life that’s soul satisfying, meets our needs, and helps to center and ground us.
Maybe the best insight that pops up is that we must figure out how to manage our ruts so they allow us to gently seat into authenticity without requiring a heavy foot on the gas pedal to push us out into the world.
That’s the rub isn’t it? How we develop subtle, comfortable indentations that let us recognize when we are home and centered but that don’t deepen so much we can never quite get up the gumption to explore and learn and develop.
We all need help with ruts every once in a while. Newton’s law gives us hope.