So, yesterday was one of those days, you know, the kind of day you either want to never speak of again, or maybe blog about?

Or both!

In fact, yesterday I was in full blown rant mode. The post would have had a much different tone had I wrote it yesterday.

Brief recap, minus the rant-

Started off good day, went out for a "walk in the hay field". Sounds nice and peaceful right? Except it was snowing, blowing, and the snow was around waist deep, drifted, with a good crust. You'd take a few steps, then break through the crust. Next step, fall through. Then you'd get a few easy steps, then plop. Great work out! I'm using that as my "Stage 1" conditioning, in preparation for the Cancer Ride in June. Lets just say I need lots of conditioning, it takes about 3 minutes out there to be breathless, panting, and remembering that I'm not 20 something anymore! The fitness gurus will say things like "focus on your breathing, focus on the movements"... dang, hard to think about anything BUT your breathing when its -20C out and it almost hurts to breath, and you can't catch your breath, and your glasses fogged up and froze solid... and movments... I used to leave straighter tracks when I was drunk on the ship in my Navy days!

So that was the good part of the day, right?

The only real project I needed to do yesterday was get coal. There is a coal mine about a mile from our farm. We have a truck now. This should be easy. Should!

Planning to get about a ton of coal. Or a Tonne I guess... Metric here... 1000 KG, what ever. Anyway, a pick up load right? Well, gotta be sure the tires aren't low. They are all low, being winter, so ok, no problem. Kevin has an air compressor.

Here's a helpful tip. If you have an air compressor, you have to keep it from freezing. And don't use it in below freezing conditions. Bad things will happen. Last year I took apart a compressor that had been frozen, then used. The connecting rod was broken. It hooks to the piston. Anyway, broken parts, don't work. Nuff said. So Kevin keeps his compressor in his trailer, where it is heated. Compressors are kind of heavy. So its a pain to have to carry it across the yard to air up a tire.

Last time I was in town I bought a portable air tank. You fill it up at the compressor, then carry the tank, which is much easier to carry, to the flat tire. Then repeat if you need more air.

Another tip. Condensation freezes. If we get all sciency, as you release a gas under pressure, the temperature drops. If you use a spray paint can, in a humid environment, the moisture in the air will condense into water drops that will splatter in with the paint. If you hold the button down long enough, it will sometimes frost up even.

So, moisture in the air, compressed, then taken outside in -30C weather, then put into tire, eventually the tank valve freezes shut. Take tank inside, put next to coal stove, take a break. Then back to Kevin's trailer, refill air tank, then back to truck, first tire aired up.

Thinking I could at least cut down on some walking, I decide to drive the truck closer to Kevin's trailer. Oh right, I had to plug in the truck to warm it up, then charge the battery. After it was started, I promptly get the truck stuck in the same kind of snow drifts I'd been playing with in the hay field. Sigh. Go find shovel. Dig. Dig. Dig. ... More dig. Finally get out of there. Decide to park truck where it was originally, and just carry the air tank. Which by now is frozen again. Go find hair dryer. Warm it up.

2 hours later, I had the tires aired up, truck runs good now that its nicely warmed up, and I get to the coal mine about 20 minutes before they close.

Get home, shovel coal... 980 KG in about 30 minutes, and life is good.

Except I got to thinking about the mess I'd left in front of Kevin's place. Tracks, ruts, which will certainly freeze and make a huge messy problem for the next time. So when I really wanted to just take a break and drink coffee, I go over to the snow plow truck, and spend another 20 minutes getting it started, warmed up, and finally pushed the snow out of the way. While I was at it, the drive way had drifted since the day before when I plowed snow, so I did that again.

Which leads us to... Tracks!

Bet you forgot what we were talking about right?

So today, I'm out in the hayfield again. Making new tracks. The whole point of being out there is getting some exercise, so if I walk in yesterday's tracks, that's cheating right? So I'm making new tracks, but going about the same place. While I'm out there, panting breathlessly through the drifts, I was thinking about yesterday.


I had like 4 or 5 ideas hit me all at the same time. Like flash bulbs popping. Might have been the severe oxygen depletion I was suffering from.

If you strike out in a new direction, you leave tracks for others to follow.

If you don't know where to go, you can follow someone else's track.

Habits are like tracks in the snow.

If you make ruts, you better clean them up, before someone else gets stuck in them too!

Then I saw a set of rabbit tracks, all zig zagging across the field.

So, all of that hit me at about the same time. It was really weird. Then I fell through the snow again, right to my waist, hands out in front of me, plop. Seemed like a good time for a break, so I stayed there for a few seconds and caught my breath.


Are you a leader? Are you making new tracks for someone else to follow? Or are you just making tracks to get away from the herd?

Sometimes we just need to get away. But not too far. Its when you get too far from the herd that you become easy pickings for the predators. Now I see why the rabbit was zig zagging... coyote tracks. The coyote was also zig zagging, but not as much. He had a target.

Tracks leave clues. If you are going somewhere, your tracks will be straighter. Maybe not always straight, but at least in a direction. If you are looking at your goal, your tracks are really straight. If you're just running away from something, it shows in your tracks.

What about if you want to take the easy way, and follow someone else's tracks? Stay with the herd, be safe. Sounds good right? At least until the herd runs off a cliff!

Better plan, I think, would be to find a guide. Someone who had been where you want to go. They might have a map, a compass, a GPS. Maybe you'll have to break your own trail, because we're all starting at different places. But at least you'll know where you're going, so you can go in a straighter line.

Life will throw detours in your way. That's life. We all have things that pop up now and then. Flat tires, even. If you focus on the problem too long, you're not thinking of solutions. You may not even realize there is a solution.

Here's a clue. There is ALWAYS a solution. Its there. Maybe its on the map. Take a minute, stop, breathe, look around. Find land marks. Look for tracks. Odds are, someone else was stuck here too. Look for the tracks.

And when you do get out of the mess, look back. What can you do to make it easier for the next person? Leave a sign. Clean up the ruts, and move on.

Habits are like tracks. The longer you've had a habit, the deeper the tracks. Some habits are good. In fact, what if you had to learn everything new, every day? You'd be faced with an unbelievable list of choices.

Imagine it, you are getting dressed. Instead of just "jeans, t-shirt, underwear, socks, done, out the door" you'd have to look at everything you owned. How would you chose? What would you eat for breakfast? Well, yesterday peanut butter and toast and coffee and orange juice worked ok, so lets try that again. Simple.


Think about a train. Lots of work went into laying the tracks in the first place. Maybe they had to build a bridge, dig a tunnel through a mountain. Level out a hill, or make a zig zag up a hill. People DIE making train tracks. Its tough, but important work.

What about us. What kind of tracks can we make? Once a train is on the track, life is simpler. No distractions. No time wasted wondering what direction to go, you just follow the track. Follow the system.

See where this is going? Tracks. Habits. Systems.

If your life isn't going anywhere, look at your tracks. Are you chasing something? or running from something. Whose tracks are you following anyway?

Laying tracks is time consuming. So is making habits, and setting up systems. You'll feel like you are just spinning your wheels. Short term thinking, its so much easier to just GO. But where are you going?

And every day that you can start off... On Track, is a day that moves you closer to your destination. Every day, you lay some new tracks. Some tracks may not lead anywhere. So you back track a bit, put in a new switch, and go in a better direction. But its still ALWAYS better than going in circles.


By Carlin Comm posted on 2011-03-04 11:42:34