"A man's errors are his portals of discovery."

-- James Joyce

by Nancy Gerber

It's a continual challenge to create a life of meaning and fulfillment. Sometimes we find ourselves in a difficult place, confused about how we arrived and frustrated when we can't find a way to move on. We can minimize the uncertainty and maximize forward momentum -- if we're willing to search for the truth and reach out for help.

You've just finished the grocery shopping, and you're especially delighted with the ripe, shiny, crimson strawberries you've found. You made sure to carefully examine each plastic container for the best looking group, and you've treated them gently on the ride home. You pop them into the refrigerator with mouth-watering thoughts of fruit salad, cereal topping and chocolate dipping to come. A few days later, however, delight turns to disappointment. What was a slightly fuzzy strawberry in the middle of the package has by now turned most of those luscious berries into a dark and mushy mess. If only you'd taken the time to sort and wash them the day you brought them home!

Fuzzy strawberries come in many guises -- the sarcastic friend, the indifferent employee, that funny little rattle under the hood, the cough that lingers on, the chaotic filing system -- any person or situation that has the potential to broaden or deepen it's negative effect in our lives if left unchecked. Too often we turn away from the uncomfortable truth of the fuzzy strawberry, fervently hoping it will get better on its own, or simply fade away. Inevitably, the moment of reckoning comes -- hopefully sooner, usually much later when the damage has already taken it's toll.

It's then that we withdraw into our shells. We adopt the "I got myself into this mess and I'll get myself out on my own" mentality. We wallow in the worst of it, knowing that we deserve to be punished for our short-sightedness and poor choices. Like the man in the well known story who refuses all help during a flood, drowns and then berates God for not directly answering his prayers, we don't reach out to ask for or accept the lifelines that are all around us. There is music to soothe our souls and lift our spirits when nothing else can be done. There are people to provide help, comfort, support or information. There is the beauty and constancy of nature to comfort and reassure us. It's right under our noses -- all we need to do is swallow our pride and reach past that seductive self-pity to start moving again.

By Nancy Gerber, Professional Certified Coach
President of SteppingStones
Copyright 2004 by Nancy Birmbaum-Gerber
All rights reserved. Used with permission.

1. What fuzzy strawberries are you unwilling to acknowledge?

2. What lifelines are you ignoring?

3. What would be different if you owned them both?

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