My friend Karol Leach asked, “How do you get out of a rut,” on her Facebook page? I made some smart ass reply like, “I try to climb out by standing on the backs of others.”
To be serious, ruts seem to come easy for many and I’m not sure why. I’ve not found myself in many and I don’t know if it’s just good luck or some combination of luck and taking evasive action when I see one coming.
I’ve told the story about working in a dish washer factory for nine weeks after out of the Navy. Everyday it was harder to get out of bed and make the drive to Columbus. After nine weeks I decided I was headed someplace I didn’t want to be and walked out the door half way through a shift. With my last paycheck I packed a bag and went west “young man.” I decided I had to acquire either a skilled trade or an education and, “California was the place to be.”
The decision was entirely mine but the luck was in not being married, having transportation, a little savings, and a best friend with an apartment waiting for me when I got to Southern California.
I was watching a documentary on modern San Francisco and one example how the city is changing was a sixty year old banker with two college degrees, no decent job, no chance of getting one, and being one temp job away from being homeless. The nature of his profession changed and left him in the dust. Shit does happen and people do fall into ruts that aren’t of their own making.
For others, though, it all seems to come down to being their own worst enemy. The person who never mastered the basics of personal finance, who drinks and parties too much, who can’t keep their stuff in their pants, who never thought education was important, or in some way, never took control of their own steering wheel. These people seem to live their lives in ruts.
For most of my life, and as much as possible, I’ve steered my own vehicle. Like lots of kids I fell prey to peer pressure in my youth but somewhere in my late teens I began to break out of that norm. I think boot camp in the Navy had a lot to do with me acquiring a higher degree of self-discipline. After I got out of the service I spent a few weeks with my aunt and uncle in New York. I recall sitting in a pizza place with my learned aunt talking about my future. She said something that became a rule to live by for me, “A rut is a hole you dug with your own shovel. To get out take that same shovel and dig yourself a set of steps.”