No matter how carefully you plan your life, how steady you travel, how well you chart your path, at any time, on any day, you can get completely knocked off track. It could have been your fault, or maybe partly your fault, or not your fault, at all. But there you are, stunned, toppled off your feet, metaphorically stuck in the mud, trying to figure out what happened and how you ended up there.
Getting your life back on track can be confusing, time consuming, and sometimes, not even worth trying. Were you traveling too fast? Were you not going fast enough and got run off the rails? Maybe the rails got washed out or covered in a landslide, or maybe the route has been closed down and your destination just doesn’t exist anymore. Or, maybe, you were on the wrong tracks to begin with. Having your life derailed can be a disorienting experience, but it’s also a chance to get your bearings and make sure you really are going in the right direction.
Anything can knock you off track: a serious health issue, a breakup or divorce, a job loss, getting sued, becoming victim to someone else’s malpractice or negligence, suffering a criminal act, a natural disaster that wipes out your house or business, the piling on of so much stress you have a mental breakdown, and the list is endless. Sometimes, all you need is a little recovery time and you can get things back in order, provided you can take the time, afford the steps necessary to recover, have appropriate insurance coverage, and a sufficient network of support to help you during recovery. Then, again, sometimes recovery means accepting that things will never be the same for you again.
Before you can get back on track, there are answers you should consider to questions you should ask. The first is, why you? Not why you as in why you and not someone else. Obviously, it happened to you and the impact is on you. The question, why you, is asking what is it about you and where you were headed that this incident was meant for you? The answer is often not clear at first, and can only be truly appreciated over time. It is only in recognizing that there is some distant destiny meant for you, one that can only be reached by traveling through your current adversity, that you can find the courage and strength to keep moving on, albeit perhaps in a new direction you don’t, at first, want to travel.
Someday in the future you’ll be able to better understand why you ended up knocked off track, but until then, there are more immediate answers to be had. Do you really know what track you were on before? Were you clearly and deliberately headed down a route you had planned, or were you aimlessly drifting along?
If you live your life just drifting along wherever the tracks take you, you’re almost destined to end up derailed. If you don’t know where you’re going, you can’t prepare for the challenges that lurk ahead around the next curve or over the next hill. The trip may be comfortable and even fun as you coast along, but you’re nothing but a runaway train, liable to get thrown off at the next sharp curve, stall heading up a steep hill, get plowed into by someone better motivated rushing up from behind, or simply run out of steam long before you get to anyplace worth being.
If your travel was deliberate and you did know what tracks you were on and where they were intended to bring you, what role did you play in disrupting your travels? What caused you to slip the rails? Were you traveling safely? Did you maintain the right speed and keep everything in good working order? Did you let others know where you were headed and ensure all crossings were cleared? If the cause of your calamity was nothing you did or didn’t do, what outside circumstances were at fault? Were the tracks still viable? Was the destination still open? Did someone sabotage your path? Whatever the answer is to what caused the problem, the most important question of all is, what will it take to get you back up and moving again, whether on the same tracks or new ones?
If you’re looking for answers here, for specific directions on what to do next, you’re really on the wrong track! No one can answer these questions but you. In fact, the right track to finding the right answers are those that wind inward, deep into your own heart and to the raw, honest truths that only you know. Reflect on where you are now, how you got here, and then determine whether or not recovery is a matter of getting up and back on, making certain repairs or modifications and then getting back on, or giving up the old tracks and finding a whole new set of tracks to travel.
Bad things happen, because we don’t actually get to pick our own destiny. It is often picked for us, camouflaged as a crisis or adversity. No one starts out wanting to create a charity to cure the disease that is killing your spouse or child. No one grows up hoping to establish a Missing Children database or a Mothers Against Drink Driving campaign, an equal rights movement, special Olympics, or any other response to the hardships that afflict innocent people. Sometimes you’re meant for a nobler, though far more arduous life than you would have ever chosen for yourself. While there may be a few natural-born martyrs walking around, for the most part it is only the pain and heartache of adversity that will set you on a path filled with greater substance than you ever imagined, and destined to bring meaningful change to many lives, including your own.
You may feel cursed when life knocks you off track, but to get moving again, try to have faith that bad things happen so that unpredictably good things may come from it.