Maine Ideas: Stick in the Mud

From Regina’s journal while walking the Appalachian Trail

A section of the trail was very muddy yesterday.  Here’s what happened. For an hour or so, I successfully rock-hop, keeping my feet dry. Then, Slip! My left toes sink into three inches of water. Now, I’m partially resigned to having wet feet and surrendering to the mud. Slip! My  right toes  dunk into the brown soup. My shoes are both coated with mud. I can give in. It’s easier, after all, to simply walk through the mud, rather than hop gingerly from stick to stick and rock to rock.

I hesitate though, because my socks are still not completely soaked! I continue to find enough rocks and sticks that others put in the mud to keep me from sloshing up to my ankles. It suddenly occurs to me that I could add a stick too! I step off the trail into the lush moss and trees and pull a broken branch from the leafy forest floor. I drop it onto the muddy trail. One more stick for the next hiker.

“Wow! What if everyone coming through here dropped sticks as we walk?” I had already seen over forty hikers in the 10 miles I had walked. “The muddy section could be easier.”

As I thought about this in my morning reverie today, I recalled my Dad saying, “Don’t be a stick-in-the-mud!” I always thought that meant don’t drag my feet and resist. But now I see that sticks in the mud can be small acts of kindness for others that literally keep their feet out of the mud!

Maybe I’ll encourage the hikers I meet today to put sticks in the mud on this hiking trail and reflect on how I can BE a stick in the mud for others along Life’s path.

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