Before many pickup trucks were equipped with four wheel drive, it was much more challenging to drive in the mud of Northeast Louisiana. There was mud everywhere in the winter and spring, and it was a place where teenage boys of my generation were known to create their own fun with a truck and some mud. To hone our driving skills, we created a game called Mud Hog'n. It was a simple game. We would find an extremely muddy piece of ground with standing water, preferably 50-75 yards long. Then we would attempt to drive through it without getting stuck.
It was best to start fast, but that trick never worked through the difficult middle part. Sometimes my truck (really my dad's truck) would slow to a crawl as the tires continued to spin. Just before I came to complete stop, I would throw the truck into reverse, get some traction, then back into drive, continuing this back and forth process until I was moving again. The key was to use the process I knew should work (science) but use it intuitively so it would work (art). My success with the game could have been my expert driving skills, or It could have been the 14" wide mud tires and the 400 pound railroad steel we welded onto the truck's rear frame to add weight over the rear wheels. Surely it was my driving.
Believe it or not, the experience of Mud Hog'n is not unlike Joseph Campbell's hero's journey in his book A Hero With A Thousand Faces where he profiles the similarities in the hero myths from various religion and cultures throughout history. Just stay with me, OK?
Brene Brown in her book Rising Strong writes about it this way which probably makes more sense. "You may not have signed up for a hero's journey, but the second you fell down, got your butt kicked, suffered a disappointment, screwed up, or felt your heart break, it started." She goes on to write that in a great life story there are three acts.
1. A Call to Adventure--like when we decide to drive in the mud, or take a chance, or get caught up in something we can't fix
2. A Problem is Encountered--that must be solved in the messy middle that often includes the "lowest of the low" like public humiliation or going to prison
3. Redemption and Conflict Resolution--resting again on higher ground in a mud covered truck, or rewriting the ending of our story
Brown goes on to set forth a process, the goal of which is to help us rise from the falls in life when our face is in the mud. With some work, it's often possible to use one's fall or getting stuck in the mud to rise again. Here's what she writes about that 3 stage process.
* The Reckoning: Walking into our story. Recognize our emotions and get curious about our feelings and how they connect with the way we think and behave.
* The Rumble: Get honest about the stories we're making up about our struggle, then challenge these confabulations and assumptions to determine what's truth, what's self-protection, and what needs to change if we want to lead more wholehearted lives.
* The Resolution: Write a NEW ending to our story based on the key learnings from our rumble and use this new, braver story to change how we engage with the world and to ultimately transform the way we live, love, parent, and lead.
While I never got stuck Mud Hog'n, I've been stuck many times since. Right now I'm stuck at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp, the messy and muddy middle of my story. Hopefully I can wipe the mud from face and write a new ending.