I was stuck. Quite stuck. I had parked my car in the garage when I got home from work the night before. Only this garage was an old farm building that had probably spent its better years giving shelter to tractors and plows.
The floor was dirt and the roof had leaks. Bad leaks. I didn’t realize how bad those leaks were until the next morning when I attempted to leave for work. I was stuck in the garage, and there didn’t seem to be any way out of the situation. That is, until my mom came along to show me how to get “unstuck.”
“Rock it,” she said. “Huh?” I questioned. “ROCK it!” she answered. Then, step-by-step, she talked me through putting the car in reverse and drive alternately to free it from the mud. I remember thinking at the time that she didn’t have the foggiest idea what she was talking about. But I was not in a situation where it was wise to question her, so I blindly followed her directions. I felt quite silly at first, but she kept coaching me: “Drive, reverse, drive, reverse, drive, reverse…”
My left foot pressed the clutch while my right hand worked the gearshift forward and backward, my left hand tightly holding the steering wheel. Sure enough, there existed the sensation of rocking, backwards and forwards, and now I could understand where the term came from. What I couldn’t understand was the purpose of what I was doing until all of a sudden I was no longer “rocking.” I was moving! The wheels of my prized 1976 yellow Mercury Capri with a four-on-the-floor transmission loosed themselves of the mud and mire that had held them captive since sometime during the night.
When at last I was free of my frustrating predicament, I remember a feeling of exhilaration and triumph as the car lurched forward. No longer stuck, I could then continue my journey to work, albeit with a new perspective on how important it is to know how to get “unstuck.”
Getting stuck is one of driving’s dangers. It’s also one of life’s dangers. Whether we get stuck in a rut, in the past, in a job, or in the midst of making some significant choices, life will give us opportunities to learn how to get “unstuck,” and it’s important that we know how. Perhaps my mom’s directions for getting my car out of the mud might just help us out on that one.
Drive! Reverse! One small step forward and one small step backward. Again, and again, and again, and again. It may seem like we’re getting nowhere, but we’re actually doing exactly what it takes to free ourselves of a situation or circumstance that has us stuck. We’re at least trying to move, one way or another, out of a state of inertia, a state that literally has us going nowhere.
I’ve been stuck before. I know what a sickening feeling it is, and I know how hard it is to begin moving again. To be honest about it, it was tempting at times to just stay stuck.
But I’ve known people who’ve decided to just stay stuck. They’re not very pleasant people. They whine and complain. They carry bitterness and resentment around with them and attempt to share it with everyone they know. They show concern mostly for themselves and seldom for others. Their body language says loudly and clearly, “Pity me, pity me, and pity me some more.”
They’re the kind of people no one wants to be around for very long. Like the wheels of my car, their lives are held captive by the sludge and the muck of their lives so that all they can muster are pathetic moans and groans about the state of their existence.
I have some advice for people like that. I learned it from my mom. Rock it!