Monday, July 23, 2012
In early March, two friends/fellow songwriters and I headed to Santa Barbara for the Durango Songwriter Expo. We were slated to leave Wednesday night, drive 5-6 hours from Salt Lake City to Vegas, sleep, get up and drive the remaining 7-8 hours to the expo and get there in time for the event to start Thursday night. My roommate and I of course were running behind schedule so we didn't pull out of our house in SLC until 8 PM, and then we spent the next hour trying to unclog my windshield fluid hose with an aerosol air can---which didn't work. So we gave up and left SLC at 9PM when suddenly giant snowflakes began falling heavily from the sky. The snow, in combination with the lack of wiper fluid and the lateness of our departure made for undesirable conditions, but we decided to make a decision about whether or not to take off that night once we reached Provo an hour south where we were picking up our other friend.
The snow was somewhat drive-able for the hour drive but conditions seemed to only be getting worse. And, they were supposed to stay bad all night and all morning so there really wasn't a good window for us to get out of town and make it to the expo on time. Circumstances as they were, my two friends were a little hesitant to make the trip, but I was determined. I really don't know what had taken over me in that moment, but I was completely full of faith that we would make it and continue on until we got there.
The trip wasn't easy by any means. We spent most of the night going 20 miles an hour. It took us about 10 hours to get to Vegas, almost twice as long as it should have. There were cars in ditches every few hundred feet it seemed and when we FINALLY spotted a snow plow it was heading in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION! Semi-trucks whirled by us in my little Honda Civic dumping large amounts of snow and ice on our windshield which only made the visibility go from little to NONE until I could wipe it off. Luckily, the snow was wet enough that if we kept the wipers on, I still had a patch I could see through well enough. However, there were a few sections on the road when ice covered all visibility and the wipers couldn't seem to break it up. We had originally devised a plan to pour wiper fluid out of the car window with a cup if that ever happened, and we quickly found out that plan was a bust! I had about an inch I could see through if I ducked down and that was IT! For almost 5 hours all we could catch of the view ahead was about 2-5 feet and then darkness. And what we could see in those two feet looked like we were going through hyperspace.
My friends were a little uneasy the entire time, but I felt very calm and peaceful. My heart was assured that we would make it there if we just continued on, slow and steady. I wasn't worried at all in the face of quite a lot of danger. We stopped near Beaver and talked about getting a motel room for the night. However, we talked to a gas station attendant who informed us people heading from the other direction said that it would clear up in about 20 miles. We just had to get through a canyon (which sounded much scarier than it actually was.)
Lesson #1: Don't give up too soon! We made it all the way to the end of the storm and almost decided to stop for the night. It ended up only being about 20 minutes of driving till the road cleared and the snow tapered off. 20 minutes!!! After almost 6 hours of driving! Sometimes the end is just right around the corner. Press on!
Well, we did continue on and pulled into Vegas at 6 AM, stopped for a brief nap until 10 or 11 and continued driving to our destination 8 hours away. Just a little bit tired ;)
Lesson #2: My roommate was quite shocked at how calm I was during the entire ordeal. Though a little petrified herself, she cheered me on and even tried to buy me whatever I wanted/needed at the gas station to keep me motivated. Because of conversations we had had prior to this, she knew that I have at times struggled with overcoming stage fright and having what I would consider good stage presence. She said to me, "You faced that deadly storm like it was no thing and you're afraid to get up in front of a few hundred people and sing???!!" Huh. Good point. When I got up to sing that night in front of my peers and industry professionals, I remembered the storm and bravely stood up to my fear of performing in front of people. It wasn't until later when I was talking to a mentor friend of mine and relayed this story that she added further clarity on the storm analogy. Kindly, she pointed out, "Yeah Catherine, but the storm wasn't going to not love you if you didn't make it through." ...Bingo... Though this is a subject for another day and another blog post, learning to love myself through every stage, every disappointment, every storm has been a big part of my work over the last year. I'm still learning, practicing and growing in my ability to do this. But I'm pretty certain these harsh lessons I've been going through are because this message is something I need to share. It's part of my purpose. And, I will. Stay tuned.
Lesson #3: The third part of this showed up today, actually. Although, if I really think about it, it's shown up multiple times, I just didn't see it fully until today. I have thought about the storm analogy many times since having this experience. I have thought about how easy it was for me to feel assured during that whole process, but in real life, I fear putting in the work through such an arduous climb and then ending up in the ditch anyway. I feared moving forward. I feared feeling ANYTHING, because what if I move forward with faith, trusting to make it through the 10 hours and then I end up in the ditch anyway? Life truly felt like it had played me this card over the last 12 months. I had worked and worked and worked SOO hard to become better, lose weight, make myself available, become a morning person (not an easy thing for me), make an album, put myself "out there" in more ways than one, open up to love, love fully with all of my heart, trust another human, trust God with all of my heart and do whatever He asked me to do (and I really did whatever He asked me to...with full intent) and I felt like after all that, I got thrown in the ditch.
I posed this hypothetical, non-rhetorical question to a relative of mine that is a healer today and she said, "So, the 'problem' is, you can't (don't) see the progress you made in those 9 hours of driving. You don't see how far you got in those 9 hours before you ended up in the ditch." .....No, well, I guess not.
My dad had actually asked me to take an inventory about a year ago and write down all of the good that had come from me taking the journey I had over the year prior. The truth is, I made a LOT of progress. I learned A LOT. My list is quite long, but most importantly, I helped another person find value in themselves. I grew closer to God than I had ever been in my life. I loved unfeigned. As painful as it was to have that love rejected, what was worse was the belief that it instilled in me, a belief based in lies, even the evidence was twisted around from truth and reality in order to back up the belief: You are not enough. You are not worthy. You are not loved. You will never be loved. You are not beautiful. Therefore, you are not worthy of love.
I drove 9 hours through a snow storm to end up in the "I don't love myself" ditch. And, what's worse is, once there, I didn't see how far I'd come. I truly believed it would have been better for me to stay home and not make any journey at all than to end up where I did.
But, I believe God cares less about the ditches we fall into and more about our overall progress. He cares less about what we would call successes and failures, and more about what He sees as our growth and improvement. He knows the ditch is temporary. He also knows that the ditch is teaching me an extremely important lesson. One which I will carry with me to avoid future ditches, potholes and wrong turns.
I've learned a lot of lessons over the past year. And, I assume I will continue to learn and grow even more through this sometimes painful, arduous process of life.
Oh, and one more important lesson I've learned. "Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent success" --Napoleon Hill.
I'm super stoked for the upside of these trials. In every thing there is an opposite...which means through the bitter and the sorrow, there must be an EQUAL capacity for joy, gladness and success. I look forward to that while also being grateful for the nine hours I made it down the road already. Who knows, twenty more minutes and we could be out of this storm :).