The Unexpected

Pretty Hollow Trail GSMNP

As I stood for this photo op I had no idea my hike was about to go off in a direction I really did not want go in. The day had started out magnificently. The weather was fine, the trail though steep towards the top, was totally manageable. I had had a few indications that perhaps not all was right in my little world, but, like most of us I ignored the warning signs and pushed through my reservations. I had come to this place with a plan. I was going to see it through.

I stood there among the beautiful wildflowers, 6 miles into the backcountry, on top of the world. I felt that smug sense of defiant accomplishment one gets right before the bottom drops out.

It was just about to get real. My expectations were meeting with reality and they were about to fold in the face of the unexpected. My world tipped sideways and it was on. My trip back down the mountain was one of the worst hiking experiences I have endured.

When we think we have figured it out and we have mastered it. We have a plan and we know just exactly how it is all going to play out. We understand where we are and can see where we are headed. When we get to this point, we are almost always assured of meeting with the unexpected.

Life is fluid and all plans are subject to its vagaries. Uncertainty plagues our steps whether we acknowledge it or not. We are not in control. We are along for the ride. We point ourselves in a direction, we study on things and make our plans. We gather our resources and we step out on the Highway and the fun begins. Within all our expectations hides the Unexpected. It is always there just waiting for us to happen upon it. Sometimes, we may have a clue it is there and get a feel for it’s shape, size and manner. Other times, it’s just there at the worst possible moment, taking the worst possible shape and all we can do then is dive on in and try to navigate our way through.

The key to survival is adaptability. The questions I am faced with everyday start with; just how adaptable are you when things do not go your way? Are you willing to change your approach? Can you seize upon the Unexpected and make it work for you? Can you integrate new ideas into your project? Can you accept that what you started out to do may not be what you end up doing? Can you own change? Can you loosen your hold on your goal enough to let it flex?

The difference between success and failure is determined by the answers to these questions. Come along with me and let’s see what those answers look like!

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