On day three of my “rest and rejuvenate” week in Iowa, I awoke in a tremendous amount of pain.  I am not exaggerating when I say that every inch of my body ached.  Parts of me that I didn’t know existed showed themselves in the form of hurt.  Obviously, I had used muscles that I never had prior to this week.  Wednesday night, as I walked up the steps to Heckman House (my lovely shared home for the week at Village Creek), I thought I might fall over on the grass, fall asleep, and stay there for the night.  My four female roommates may have thanked me for that as I snore!

In the morning, after a fitful night’s sleep due to pain and a different bed catching up to me, I questioned whether I could continue on in my hopes to do a hike a day.  I was pretty sure that, if I gave up yesterday, I would not return to any more hikes over the course of the end of the week and would find something else to fill my time.  Determined not to give up in my commitment to myself and encouraged by a friend, I set out to Yellow River in order to continue on with my plans in hopes for more quiet time to contemplate, pray, and restore my soul.

Distractions come in many shapes and forms for me.  Pain is a huge distraction; I will give up just about any task that involves any kind of pain – this would be a good reason that I’m in the physical shape that I find myself in currently.  Other people’s needs, wants, desires, and suggestions are also a huge distraction.

Pain was the first distraction of my day, but I pressed through that.  Once I started, I found that I enjoyed the pace, and I found that the beauty of another valley with its peaceful rhythms of life relaxed my aching muscles and my racing mind.  I took in the beauty, stopped at times to smell the foliage-filled air, and took pictures.

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I found another distraction once I reached the end of my initial trail.   I had planned to complete the flat trek near the creek in the valley – a three mile round trip that promised to leave me in less pain but still feeling exercised; however, when I reached the end of the trail, I thought I had to choose between repeating the flat trail or returning via the highway.

My initial distraction was actually an interruption in the form of two park workers who had vehicles that made noises that seemed out of place in my peaceful surroundings.  As I approached them, one noticed my perplexed look about where to head next.  Kindly, he offered his opinion which was to ignore either of my original options and choose to take a “more scenic” path up through the bluffs, around the headquarters, and then back to my vehicle.  This idea enticed me but only for a moment.  There was no way that I could tackle another bluff just yet, and there was no way I should allow him to dissuade me from my original plan.

I had chosen the most logical and healthy plan for myself before I ran into this man, yet his suggestion caused me to pause and consider it.  He knew the trails better than I.  He had mowed them.  Surely his intentions were to enhance my experience.  Oddly, in considering his suggestion, I learned something about my tendency to listen to the advice of others.  Often, the way in front of me has been clearly marked, and all I need to do is follow it.  But rather than following the clearly marked, appropriate, path, I heed the advice of others who have no idea why the original path is the correct one.  Their intentions are pure; they often even have input that could be correct.

The problem is that I often take their advice, change my course of action, and follow their path rather than considering why the original path was the right one all along.

Note added later: Thanks to BH for asking me what I chose to do.  I stayed on the flat road, my original plan – the correct choice for my body as I discovered last night when I could not stay standing after 7p.m.

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