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The Ravine

An Allegory for Escaping Unproductive Grooves

Escaping unproductive habits can feel like trying to climb out of a deep, difficult, slippery ravine. This story is simply an allegory for your ongoing journey to hear and follow the small voice that calls to you from the top of that ravine and that invites you to break free of the thought patterns that keep you stuck in your Unproductive Grooves.

Imagine you’re stuck at the bottom of a ravine. It’s not terrible in your ravine, you have adequate food, water, and shelter. You even enjoy the scenery and company some of the time, and the flashfloods that occasionally swamp the ravine and threaten to undo your life are only periodic, not constant, and they are frequently predictable. 

But something shifts. The flashfloods increase, reducing your periods of relative comfort. Food is harder to find, and your shelter keeps getting disrupted. The ravine is all you know, so you struggle harder to rebuild the hut that keeps washing away. You try, but increasingly fail, to find comfort, ease, and contentment. 

At some level, you have always known that you must leave this ravine. And, with the increased discomforts you’re experiencing, it’s clearer than ever that you must leave to find deeper, more consistent comfort, support, and ease. Your instincts have always told you that, at the top of the ravine, there is sunshine, blue sky, less hardship, more ease, more resources, and a deep, steady comfort that is lacking in the familiar, but ever-darkening, ravine. You also strongly suspect that, at the top, the flashfloods don’t pool and crash and destroy as they do within your ravine. 

As circumstances in the ravine deteriorate more, you seriously consider leaving. Those around you don’t want you to go as they’ve grown used to your presence in the ravine. Your presence helps justify and buoy their own existence in the ravine. They whisper that it’s dangerous up top, unknown, and if you try to leave, the comfortable familiarity of the ravine will call you back down anyway. It may be a mess with constant flashfloods and the resulting instability, but it’s your ravine and it’s known, so it feels safer than the unknown of the top.


Finally, the discomfort is so strong, that you follow the call of your guidance and start to climb out. The walls are slippery with mud, but, with practice, you soon discover that small indents hide beneath the mud, perfect to support reaching hands and climbing feet. You learn to find these and hold on. You talk to yourself as you climb, silently encouraging your progress, cheering your victories, and forgiving your slips back down. You discover others want to also leave the ravine and feel brave enough to try. When you work together, you make more progress, encouraging each other, reaching to provide support between the footholds, helping fend off those who try and pull you back down. 


You reach the top many times, only to slip and fall partway back into the ravine. The going is difficult and demands so much of your attention. But each fall is smaller and smaller, each escape to the surface quicker, lasting longer. With each moment you spend on the surface, you gather data. There is sunshine and blue sky. There is rain, but it doesn’t flood your home, it simply wets the outside and provides fuel for growth. Those who helped you out of the ravine become your steady confidants, your cheerleaders, your friends, and you find an intimate partner who shares your desire to be free of the ravine. 


You have less and less contact with those who stayed in the ravine because you discover they no longer feel comfortable, friendly, or safe. They don’t support your new life outside of the ravine. You may mourn their loss, but the relief at being out of the ravine and the deep knowledge that you are serving your best and highest good ameliorates the mourning. 


You’ve written it all down as you’ve progressed so you can be reminded that your intuition was right. You can look back at your path and take encouragement from the distance you’ve traveled. 


As your guidance long ago predicted, it is better at the top of the ravine. And you have the courage and perseverance to get there and remain.

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