May 21, 2018

Life's an Obstacle Course ... by Jocelyn Faire

I'd thought this post was going to be easier ... as I've often said Life is full of metaphors. Life's a kayak ride, a gong show, a three ring circus, a journey, a puzzle, a tapestry, a simile ... When we use a metaphor we say something is, when we use a simile we say something is like something, thus putting a maybe in front of the comparison. Instead of a metaphor's declaration, it becomes more of a suggestion. A subtle difference, to be sure, but I am aware that that was one aspect of my struggle; the confidence to say that my life is or my writing is ... because that would be saying my life and my words matter. A metaphor also adds a bold finality, and my life seems variable and metaphors only go so far, and oh I do believe I am overthinking this issue. (see step 5 below) However, I do recognize a hesitancy in those of us who feel less confidant in our writing. So on that note, (thus far my post is a long apology note) I declare two different metaphors for this time in my life.

My life is an obstacle course. Since my ski injury (which resulted in a fracture and torn ligaments in my left knee) I have been hobbling around with crutches and a wheel chair. Navigating walkways was something I never considered before; small scatter rugs tripped easily. Wondering if a place had stairs caused me to rethink my plans. It could be easy to sit it out instead of rising to the challenge. Who would have thought that three small steps were cause enough to change plans? A week ago I set out to visit the small local art gallery. The beautiful paintings seen through the window lured me in—or tried to. At the entrance I realized it was impossible for me, because it meant pushing and holding a heavy door open while leaping over a four inch rise with telephone poles under my armpits. Physically I couldn't do it. There was no one within sight to hold the door and no auto press opener. Nose to glass I admired what I could and left, feeling somewhat defeated. This injury has been a real eye opener and has increased my admiration a hundred fold for those people that navigate life-long emotional or physical obstacles on a daily basis. And the stair cases are the biggest obstacles. I have tripped a few times with crutches trying to reach new heights. Those stair cases rise up to mock me and hold me back. As I've contemplated metaphors, I've wondered about the steps that hold me back in my life and in my writing. My list will be different from yours, but here are some to think about:
1)Distraction ... Procrastination: my good morning intentions can
easily be distracted by messages, tidying, getting my coffee just right, or thinking I don't have quite enough time to start it.
2) Doubts & Fear (3)Lack of self confidence. Numbers 2&3 have similarities. Fear of failure, and doubting my voice. These fears that can nag and erode self confidence. Too often I forget that I am a uniquely created human being ... too often I get caught up in the comparison game, thinking my little offering is too small. I get caught up in the cultural value of doing instead of being ... and I fall for the trap of productivity over contemplation.
4)Perfectionism ... too much time spent on finding just the right picture to go with the blog. We are haunted by the misinterpreted verse that says “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.” We will never achieve that. For the most part I accept who I am and I'm thankful for deadlines ... at some point you just hit “send” and trust that you have done the best you could for that time.
5)Overthinking .... This one made me laugh out loud. One simply must take the time to think, but when does it become navel gazing? There is no definitive answer on that one. Tim Dennings says that: Too much information is part of the reason we overthink. Thinking uses up our precious energy. Not bringing thoughts, ideas and decisions to a conclusion causes us to overthink. “The space between yes and no is overthinking. Most people live their entire lives in this space.” 

Three things that have helped me navigate the stairs is 1) Patience/Practise 2)leaning on my crutches—my sister once accused me that my faith was a crutch! She meant it negatively, but it is a positive to have someone/something to lean on 3)Listening to the wisdom of my physio therapist and others who inspire.
The beauty of the staircase is that while we have the ups and downs, we are given just enough light for the step we are on and enough lift to step up. Life is beautiful and we need to strengthen our legs for the climb.

My second metaphor is much shorter and something that developed over time.

My faith life is the beauty of the garden tree in fall. The weathered tree trunk shows scarred bark, a wound healed over where a large limb had been severed, twisting branches reach upwards to the sunlight which sparkles through the autumn leaves, a few unpicked apples glisten like jewels, roots sunk deep into the soil ... I have matured into foliage.

Jocelyn also blogs at:
 Crutch cartoon by seen at


  1. I actually really enjoyed your 'apology', as ytou put it, since I had never really considered the difference between a metaphor and a simile before. I like that idea of 'declaration'. then I got to you metaphor and boy could I relate! I was on crutches a few years ago after breaking my ankle and it really was an eye opener. Also, last year after my heart surgery, I couldn't open heavy doors etc and so couldn't go into most public washrooms unless my husband waited outside for my knock when i was ready to come out! (He may have gotten some strange looks...!) this was such a great post and your signs on the stairs was excellent.

    1. Thanks Tracy, I realized that I often confused metaphors and similes. And yes, once you have a taste of the body not doing what we thought it should, heavy doors included-yes the washrooms :) ... I've become aware of what many people experience daily.

  2. "I get caught up in the cultural value of doing instead of being ... and I fall for the trap of productivity over contemplation." Our culture really does lie to us that what we do is so much more important than who we are. Thank you for this reminder. I too experience life as an obstacle course. I'm not sure where I am on the course anymore!! Today I feel somewhat trapped under a heavy net trying to swim through the mud....we had another surprise in our business yet again this morning...can unpleasant surprises not even take a holiday on Victoria Day???? I have read some of your blog and know that you speak from real life that has tried you down to your core so your metaphor on the fall tree is even more beautiful <3. I just loved your description of it and you saying that you have matured into foliage :) Blessings Jocelyn. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Thank you Gloria, your words are encouraging. I have taken much time for contemplation, and now in a new phase of life, I feel as though there are times I should get back into "doing." And I see my daughter caught up in "doing" even many good works, but to the point of exhaustion. And for you, trying to swim under a net of mud ... such a challenge-No, the obstacle courses do not take holidays. They just give you breathers and then change direction of approach, it seems. And still all said, there is such beauty in this world.

  4. I always enjoy reading your posts! Once again, you have given me a lot to think about. Years ago I had to navigate myself on crutches with my two little kids. Not easy! Yes, life is filled with many up and downs.


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