Our kids love to go coasting (we usually call it sliding or sledding). Living in Eastern Canada it’s one of the few perks of winter. We bundle up and grab our gear and head to the hill. Over and over and over again.
The kids have learned (as they get older and heavier – such that I can/will no longer help cart them or their sleds to the top of the hill) that to enjoy the downhill part of the adventure, there’s a lot of hard work that has to happen first.
Even on the tallest hill, the coasting element of the experience will last a minute at best. But the climbing? Oh, the climbing can go on for a looonnnggg time.
In addition to the elevation, you have to contend with the ice – slipping and losing ground is a frustrating, but common, occurrence. Then there is the burden of transporting the necessary tools. To slide down a hill, you need to bring something on which to slide with you to the top.
A few weeks ago my husband and I were walking home from school drop-off and were slogging up a particularly steep hill. Where we live, hills are unavoidable on the return trip.
I hate the hills.
It’s not because my fitness level isn’t sufficient, hills just take more work. I have to concentrate. I can’t ease into the conversation with my walking partner or get lost in my own thoughts. I start sweating (I loathe sweating).
But I set my sights on the prize – namely level ground at the top. Ultimately, my goal is to get home, so I do it. Sometimes the only way through is through.
On this particular walk I was wrestling with various life and work events and was feeling overwhelmed by it all. Ruminating over all these thoughts and then coming face-to-face with the inevitable climb – well, the hill suddenly felt like a metaphor for life.
Starting a new job can feel like climbing up a hill. So many processes with which to become familiar; lots of icy patches that send me careening back to the bottom of the hill.
Parenting always comes with new challenges. And sometimes it can start feeling like one continuous slog up the hill, one step forward before sliding ten back.
But, also, some of the hard work from before means I’m ready to coast in a lot of other areas. I’m easing back on Christmas this year – buying fewer gifts and starting later so I don’t keep seeing new things to buy (adding to the total bill and time commitment). I’m coasting with meals; I’ve gone from dedicating swaths of time to meal-planning to being someone who throws together last-minute one-pot wonders from whatever is hanging out in the crisper drawer or using up freezer leftovers I’ve been hoarding. No one has starved yet.
See, sometimes I force myself to keep climbing in areas when I’ve earned the right to jump on my sled and coast for a while. Scrambled eggs and bacon twice in a week is fine. (It’s actually great since eggs and bacon are two of the most delicious food items known to man). I don’t have to prove I can cook and I’m not competing for Best Domestic Housewife in the East. I’ll make the long, elaborate meals again. But it doesn’t have to be this week.
I know that coasting is short-lived. The downhill ends eventually and requires another climb back up to the top.
But, maybe, after I’ve coasted to the bottom, this time I’ll take a moment to sit and enjoy the view…from the bottom of the hill.
There will always be new hills to climb, but there are also opportunities for coasting, too.
And hurtling down the hill can be a pretty fun way to view the world.
Where are you currently climbing? Any areas where you’re coasting?