Day Three … Determind to Succeed, Obstinate?

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Day Three happened, just the write up didn’t!  So here it is!

Our two friends come chasing after us, Obstinate and Pliable…. my goodness this could be written about my children!

As we start off on our journey towards the great, others watch us, shocked at what we are doing, what we are trying to achieve.  They think with their best intententions that they need to rescue us, from what? From ourselves of course.  We can’t get to where we are aiming, we can’t reach the goal, the city, the promise, the dream.  We will end up hurting ourselves, we musn’t do it.  We shouldn’t do it.  Not you, you aren’t big enough, clever enough, smart enough, rich enough, brave enough…. fill in your own word.

Here they come, obstinate and pliable.  Obstinate has always been right, probably never listened long enough to hear the people saying that those words aren’t true.  And there, by his side (or hers!!) is pliable, maybe, in fact they are Mr and Mrs.  Pliable, always willing to go along, to say yes or no or maybe or whatever you want to hear or someone else tells them to say.  Obstinate doesn’t have to listen, they know you can’t make it because they are always right.  Pliable doesn’t bother to think whether you can, they just agree with obstinate.  So along they come chasing after you and your dream.  Sure enough Obstinate is bigger than you and your dreams.  Looming over, catching up and taking you over before you can even truly set out on the journey.  You can’t do it, the words echo round and meet up with those doubts of your own.  You look to Pliable, nodding in agreement, but your dreams shout out, YOU CAN!

Your choice right now to turn back, go back and wonder.  Or to wander.

J.R.R. Tolkein with his mind full of imagination said “Not all who wander are lost…” Not all who wonder are either.  Someone sent me a card with that quote on when we first started our life overseas.  Its true, so many times I have not seen clearly the road, or known the way ahead. But I have not been afraid to wander, through the fault filled language, through the panic over health, through the cultural faux pas… its actually fun to wander, normally more fun when you are reflecting than at the moment!

For the boys, what can they learn?  Well a wry smile on the eldest face let me know he recognised his over confident qualities.  He might never have described himself as obstinate before but he knew the cap fitted, well!  He could see the pig headed-ness of obstinate, the unfriendly forcefulness of insisting on being right, being first, being boss.  He saw the negative qualities probably because he had felt them.  But when is obstinate good?  That was more of a challenge to think of. 

Little Pilgrim was also obstinate, determined to press on, despite the arguments, the nagging doubts, the ‘wondering’.  Obstinate allows us to be focussed, to be single minded on what we believe even if no one else understands.  Obstinate allows the impossible to become possible, often in words we cannot explain…. it just is right to us because it is. 

Pliable decided to continue the journey, for once daring to stand up to Obstinate, daring for once to walk towards the things he had wondered about.  How brave, how freeing that must have felt.  To come out of the shadow and to walk, to wander.

The boys wrote down how the qualitites of Obstinate and Pliable were both positive and negative.  Great to reflect on how our qualities are not always negative but can be used for good as well if we choose to use them rightly.  So, the wandering continues, as does the wondering….

Day Four In a Puzzling Place

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the slough of despondency

Day four found us in the Slough of Despondency… the what????  I had loved this book so far because as I read it I only changed very few words as we went along.  The title for this one had me from the start… the what of how to explain that.  Okay, that’s the title boys lets read on and see if we can make it make sense!

Pliable is accompanying us, but as we begin to head towards the gate we discover ourselves in the slough… we begin to sink and can’t find our way out (great time for acting this bit out, with some squelching and some slurping and some sploooshing) Pliable discovers he isn’t that pliable because he is stuck, just like us, stuck in the mud.  The further we walk, the deeper we go, our toes, our ankles, our feet and through to our knees.  Are we ever going to get out?

Well Pliable does but decides this is not a good idea, if its this tough already he’s out of there.  So he gets out and leaves, back to the kingdom.  Little Pilgrim is despondent (see, I can use that word in context too and it does describe that emotion so well).  No way forward, no way back, just feeling like we are sinking deeper and deeper.

Living in a swamp area with ‘roads’ made of mud we could understand the physcial aspect of this part of the journey easily.  I will not quickly forget the day my foot got stuck in the mud road, as I pulled it out my flipflop broke and there I was, in the middle of the road, in many ways free but still affected by my moment in the mud.  My freedom had come at a cost and now I was faced with a new problem, a flipflopless foot (okay that word probably didn’t exist!) and the next step was still in the mire.  So I took it, the filthy mud road squelching between my bright pink nailed toes, the cold goo sticking to my foot, and on I walked.  One foot flipflopped one foot free.  The dripping traitor of the other flip flop in my hand!  The rest of the road was walked hobbling over the sharp stones, embarrassed, amused, aggravated but moving towards my house, the goal in sight.

Its easy to give up as we get that sinking feeling, for my boys to think of the times they’ve chosen to give up as soon as they have to put some effort in.  To stop where we are because the only way forward means more mess before we find another kind of freedom.  Financial, dreams, hopes, health, job, school…. whatever, we’ve all been there and probably will be again. 

Do you know the best thing though, I made it home, how great that fresh clean water felt as I watched that filthy mire filled mud wash away.  I don’t know I learnt my lesson, its part of life here, there will be more mud and more flimsy flip flops…. but I won’t give up this pilgrimage.  I hope the boys remember it might be easier to run backwards, but it feels way better to be closer to the gate and heading towards your dreams and destination.