Last night as darkness feel, a group of kids was back in the fields behind our house getting their cars stuck in the mud. They’ve been there before and gotten stuck, but they keep coming back. They should know better by now, but that’s probably not the problem.
Some people simply love to create their own ruts and then fight their way out of them. You probably know a few folks like that. You hear them bragging about some inane situation they’ve just conquered and eventually you realize they were the cause of their own problem in the first place.
Athletes do this all the time. We go through these periods in life when overtraining or training too much the same way becomes a problem. We get tired or can’t snap out of it. So what do we do? We go out and run or ride or swim some more, usually in the same old way expecting different results. That’s insanity, of course. Yet somehow we keep thinking more work will add up to less fatigue.
That’s a rut of your own making for sure. Cyclists are probably the worst about all this. They join the group rides every damned week and tear around the 35-mile loop at 23 mph. Then the next day they go out and try to ride all out on their own and wonder why their body can’t respond. Even when they gun the engine the tires feel like they’re spinning in place. That’s call a training rut. Runners get them too. And swimmers. And triathletes? The dig triple ruts. Then they rut around for someone to console them. There’s a rut and wrong way to go about this you know…
The better approach is to slow down a bit. Think things through. Give your body and mind a chance to actually recover for once. Allow a slow swim, ride or run now and then. Who the fuck really cares if you rode thirty miles at 17.1 or 19.1? Really?
Once you’ve done that, you can think more clearly about how deep you’ve driven yourself into a rut and how to get back out.
Those kids that tore up the mudflats around the wetland eventually did find a way to get their little white sedan up and over the hill. Concerned for the sensitive plants at the edge of the water, I’d called the police to come take a gander at what was going on. The young policeman asked, “Why would they take a sedan down there? Even a Jeep would have a hard time getting out.”
Indeed. But the kids were quite obviously restless and bored the way kids get when summer hits and it feels like there is not enough to do or life doesn’t offer much interest. So they stood their waving their hands at the mosquitoes biting their necks as one of their buddies ground out the engine of the sedan trying to spin their way out of the mud.
It was all a classic case of creating problems of their own to fix. It may not be a phenomenon unique to American culture, but we seem to have perfected it. That’s how street vandals and desperate patriots both go about keeping themselves busy. They screw something up on purpose just to prove to themselves they can fix it on their own. There’s a little bit of backwards hillbilly instinct woven into the fabric of America.
Eventually they all whoop and holler and drive over the hills leaving the ruts of their supposed adventures behind. The entire continent of North America is covered with tracks like that. From swampland to desert, oceanside to mountaintops, the ruts of restless souls are testaments to the deadly boredom and false heroics of generations come and gone. Those are the skid marks of the American Dream.
Don’t you be one of them. Be one of you. Don’t try to flail your way out of whatever rut you might find yourself in, even if it is of your own making. Remember that you can’t swim your way out of quicksand. Neither can you spin your way out of mud or snow. Just easy does it. Don’t make the rut worse than it already is.
It’s the only way to catch back up with the American Dream, or one of your own making.