Insights: A Rocky Road

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When I think of rocky road, I think of the chocolate called rocky road with soft marshmallows and crunchy nuts.

Life can also be rocky at times.  It can throw us punches that we are not always prepared for.

I was hiking in Kauai this week and was thinking about how the hike I was doing was so similar to life.  It was an amazing hike along cliffs and down into valleys, muddy and slippery at times.  Then suddenly I’d come across incredible views and my jaw would drop, thinking how amazing this was.

Life is just that way isn’t it?  Life really is like the rocky road chocolate: there are pieces that are fluffy and easy, and then there are the nuts, or times when we have to put our head down and work hard to get through things.  But they are important times, because they are the lessons to learn.  They have substance and meaning.

Then, of course my favorite part is the chocolate.  The part of life that makes us smile brings joy, contentment.  It is the part that holds life together.  It is rich and meaningful.  We all need the chocolate in our lives.  And yet without the marshmallow and nuts, it would not be rocky road, it would not be our life.

So what does all this mean?  When returning from my hike today, I realized that what made it so meaningful and so wonderful was the fact it had difficult parts—the slipping on the wet rocks in the river, the climb in the humidity.  It is what I can look back at and realize I made it through all that.  And of course there are always lessons to be learned.

These difficult times really teach us how strong we truly are.  It’s amazing what we can do.

On the way to the hike this morning, we picked up a hitchhiker who was going to the same hiking trail.  I do not normally pick up hitchhikers, but also knowing that most people on that road were on their way to hike this trail, we decided to stop.

This was one interesting guy.  From Canada originally, Andrew bought himself a 30-foot boat and is sailing it by himself to different parts of the world.  Andrew shared how he had not sailed before and his first few weeks he would spend throwing up and struggling through the day, then laughed saying no matter what the weather he can eat anything and hold it down now.  He shared how his boat leaked yet he found ways to keep the water out.  But the story gets even better.

Andrew had just docked his boat and decided he would run, yes run, this trail that is 26 miles in one day.  I just looked at him and said ‘are you kidding’!  No he was not.  Not only is he doing this trail in one day, but running in bare feet.  This is a guy who is not afraid of the nuts, loves the chocolate and sinks into the soft parts of the marshmallow in life.

Sometimes we just have to go through the seasickness, the nuts, the slippery rocks to get to the better parts of life. Rather than avoid these challenges, we need to ride through them until we are stronger.

At times I want life to be simple and be chocolate all the time, but then it just would not be that interesting, would it. As Kierkegaard said, “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected]



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