The Power of Desolate Montana Highways & Decision Making…
We arrived in Whitefish late last night after a very long travel day. Long, yes. Boring, No. We had a sublime day. It was filled with laughter, hard conversations and culminated in some decisions being made. Hard ones. Painful ones.
As often with decisions, they are likely long overdue. I find that we as a species tend to find decision making unpleasant so we either make them rashly or put them off for as long as possible.
I find though that time is never wasted in the daily life of decision making…never. Whether we make them on impulse or whether we wring our hands over them for months and years…at some point we all come to the space and place where a decision to take one road or another must be made.
I didn’t know it when we started out that last night would be one of those nights. I didn’t even know that it was on the table. But as the roads divided into smaller and smaller passages up the mountains, it seemed like with each turn, we were moved closer to the ultimate and final decision that has been months, perhaps years lying in wait.
And it happened on a uninhabited stretch of road where people are few and livestock rule the earth. We couldn’t see them because of the encroachment of night, but we could see their bodies dotting each field in the moonlight. It was there, in some no-name town that a long put off decision was made.
It has happened to me quite often in life that I have had the answers to the questions I ask the entire time. And whether I have spent months or years or even just days trying to sort through the myriad of emotions, consequences, death defying questions, I most often arrive at a place that I, on some level, knew I was at the entire time.
Decisions are a lot like the fermentation process. I mean at the beginning you know that you have something you are mulling. It isn’t like you don’t know that you are in this process. And most of the time, you know all the variables. I mean sometimes life throws you a curve ball, but most often, you even know all the possible outcomes. The hard part, the part where so much time is spent, is trying to figure out how to live with the consequences of whatever decision you make.
Some of life’s hardest decisions are the ones who have no clear cut consequential path. You know that the first decision only sets you on a road that will bring you to the next way station where other, perhaps even more important and hard decisions, will be made. Sometimes the hardest part is making that first decision…the one that you know begins to change everything.
As we drove through the frigid night, and it was fucking frigid, time, grace, God eased us into a place where we have been afraid to tread…a place where a stand is made and a decision firmly made. No turning back. Only moving forward.
I wasn’t expecting it. And I am not sure he was either. It just happened. On a Big Sky highway surrounded by nature, God and quite a bit of snow.
The older I get the more I find that decision making is really just another name for letting go. We hold so tightly to things we cherish…often long after the time has come and passed that we actually cherish them anymore. I can’t tell you how many times I have finally released someone or something…only to find that letting go of that person, place or thing was something that I could have let go a long time before and would have been so much better off…but again, letting go is a difficult process with lots of attendant fear, anticipation and thought mulling.
No matter the decision I have needed to make, going to nature always helps me. Even sometimes when I am driving in warm cars late at night and nature is only tapping on the window. There is something to be said for life getting interrupted, changing up the routine and escaping the confines of a “normal” existence. For me, and apparently I am not the only one, shocking I know, getting out into the world, whether it be next to a river or stream, a mountain path that travels up and up, or even on a bleak Montana highway under a star filled sky and almost full moon, those things that I fear, those things that I dread, those consequences that I have been so intent on staving off a little longer…I find the courage, the fortitude and the willingness to let go and trust that whatever decision I make will only lead me to what I already know about my life: that so long as I am sober, anything is possible. Anything at all.
Last night I got to witness and, I suppose, be a part of someone else’s process…and it was confirming and heartening for me to see someone else go through similar processes and ultimately arrive at the same place…letting go is all that is required to get another turn at life. Starting over is scary but it is also exciting and amazing and invigorating. The foundation for all good decisions, at least in my world, is the one that I made almost 28 years ago, and that was to dedicate my life to trusting God, cleaning my proverbial house and serving others one day at a time. Last night, I got to be a part of someone else’s miracle and I am so humbled and grateful. The fact that I got to shore up someone else as they walked this precarious path, an honor and privilege. The fact that we both got to do it on a lonely but beautiful Montana highway under a pregnant moon surrounded by snow, life changing.