Do you have a life motto?

I posted a new life motto on facebook the other day. I saw it first on Pinterest, and then I saw it all over Pinterest (isn’t that how it always goes?), but it really struck me:

“Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure”

I think it really stood out to me because, just that day, we were expecting news that would give us a little more certainty about the foreseeable future, and instead we received news that made everything even more uncertain.

I wouldn’t describe my life as an ordeal right now, but I was feeling gloomy and a little shaken. And this little quote gave me just the boost I needed to reframe the entire situation and choose to embrace the adventure.

Do you use little catch phrases or mottos to get you through a tough spot? Or do you ever stop to think about how your situation might be describe by an author, perhaps with a metaphor or an analogy or in some poetic way, just to make it all feel a little more bearable?

I love an analogy by Don Miller from a Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I’m totally paraphrasing now, but basically he suggests life is a lot like paddling a boat across a big lake. You start out with so much excitement and things seem to move so quickly. The shore gets further and further away by the minute and you can see all the spectators waving you on and you already start imagining the reception you’ll receive when you reach the otherside. You paddle hard and fast and soon you can’t even see the shore.

And then it’s like everything slows down to a stop. You paddle and paddle and paddle and nothing seems to be happening. The sun is burning down on you and you still can’t see anything but water and suddenly you begin to question if you’ll ever reach the shore, if land is even real or just a figment of your imagination. And then, unless you want to bob around in the centre of a lake for the rest of your life, you have to just keep going. Just keep paddling. And then, wait.. could it be? You think you spot a forest. You dig deep, push harder and soon the whole beach comes into view. You’re there, you made it! You’ve never been so excited to get out of the boat and put your feet back on dry land.

Miller says the analogy applies to so much in life – relationships, careers, family, faith. Everything starts out so fun but none of it is ever as easy as you think it would be, and the temptation to give up part way through can get pretty intense. But oh the sweet relief, and the pride, when you land on the other side. To know just how hard it was, but that you made it through, make it all worthwhile.

I think about that analogy a lot. I can’t always see the shore and sometimes life feels like I’m paddling in circles. But I just need to keep paddling, right?

Our current analogy is that life is like a roller coaster. We’ve joked about it back in September last year. We kept expecting things to settle down, but it’s been a real up-down-up-down-spin-around journey since then. We really didn’t think we’d still be on the roller coaster so many months later. We want to get off and feel settled and put down better roots and do normal things like buy a bed frame and a proper couch and plan holidays in advance instead of with four days notice.

But it appears life will continue to be a roller coaster for the coming months, hence my new life motto. Ordeal or adventure, ordeal or adventure? What will I make it?

And so here’s the little poetic imagery I’m grabbing on to with two hands. Myself setting up shop on the roller coaster, painting our cart our favourite shade, putting nice cushions on the seats, adding some flowers and photos around the place. I’ll tie all our pots and pans to our safety harnesses and glue the rug to the floor to combat gravity. Because if I want to settle and life is giving me a crazy ride, I may as well make myself feel at home, right?

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