TOLERANCE TO NEGATIVE THINKING
Quarter of Saudi Arabia is one of the largest sand deserts in
the world and contains sand dunes that are hundreds of feet
high. In between those sand mountains, you frequently encounter
large ripples in the wind blown sand called sastrugi. During
one of our trips into the Empty Quarter we created a new motto,
comes in different forms. Sometimes the ripples take the form
of tiny corrugations that cause the car to shake and rattle as
you drive over them. At other times the ripples take the form
of large corrugations that may be eight to twelve inches tall.
These corrugations can be very hard, but they can also be soft
like quicksand. Itís
impossible to look at sastrugi from a distance and tell its
consistency. It could be as hard as a rock or as soft as
When you drive
through sastrugi, you never know ahead of time what will
happen. Your car may shake violently as you drive over large
hard sastrugi, or you may come to an abrupt stop as your car
sinks down to the chassis in soft sand. The reality of the sand
dunes is that SASTRUGI HAPPENS. The reality of life is also the
same, SASTRUGI HAPPENS.
When you drive
in the sand dunes, you prepare for the sastrugi that lies
ahead. And when you travel through life, you must also prepare
for the sastrugi that is certain to occur.
Driving in hard sastrugi at a
high speed is traumatic. It makes both your car and your teeth
rattle. Loose articles in the car become dislodged and fly
around. The car feels and sounds like itís coming apart.
Hitting a big patch of hard sastrugi at high speed is a bit of a
worry. After you get through it, you get out of your car and
check your vehicle to make sure itís ok. It usually takes a few
minutes to recover from the look your spouse gave you as you
raced over the hard sastrugi.
Some people hit a big patch of
hard sastrugi on their first trip into the desert, and they
never go out into the sand dunes again. You would have thought
they had driven over a landmine. They are afraid the sastrugi
will destroy their car. They visualize disaster in their
minds. They fantasize that the shock of hitting hard sastrugi
will damage their steering, and their car will be stuck in the
desert forever. A large patch of hard sastrugi keeps some
people safe at home for the rest of their life.
SASTRUGI HAPPENS IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE
You donít have to be in the
desert for sastrugi to happen; life is full of hard sastrugi,
and it happens all the time. Sastrugi traumatizes people in the
workplace and in their personal life. They go through periods
when they feel as if they are being severely hammered by the
sastrugi of life. After taking this punishment, they withdraw,
and instead of saying yes to life, they say no. They donít want
to experience any more hard sastrugi.
They go home, sit in their easy
chair, watch television, read the newspaper, and watch life pass
by. The sastrugi of life traumatized them, and they donít want
to get hurt anymore. They donít understand that sastrugi is
simply one of the challenges of life, and a challenge is only a
challenge until you learn how to deal with it. There are ways
of dealing with sastrugi without getting hurt, and once you
learn how to deal with it, sastrugi no longer is a problem.
Soft sastrugi is also like
life. In the sand valleys at the base of the dunes, you
encounter areas of sastrugi as soft as shallow quicksand. Soft
sastrugi stops you dead in your tracks; your vehicle sinks until
the chassis touches the sand when soft sastrugi happens.
Sastrugi is tricky. When you
come to a patch of it, you never know if it will be soft or
hard. The only way you can tell is to drive through it. If you
think itís soft, you put your foot on the accelerator in order
to blast your way through at high speed. If you think itís
hard, you put your foot on the brakes and slow down so your car
wonít shake apart as your tires bounce on the crests of the hard
Many times I have slowed down
when I thought I was coming to a patch of hard sastrugi.
Unfortunately, I entered a sea of soft sand at a slow speed, and
I quickly learned the error of my ways as my car sunk down to
the chassis. I was sincerely and monumentally stuck in deep
sand. Soft sastrugi happens.
Being deeply mired in soft
sastrugi is only an embarrassment unless you decide to stay
stuck for the rest of your life. If you stay stuck, the rest of
your life wonít be long because you will die of thirst in the
desert. Smart people donít stay stuck, and they donít sit
around waiting to die. They get out of their car and reduce the
air pressure in their tires to fifteen pounds per square inch.
They use shovels to dig the sand out from under the car where it
touches the chassis and axle. Next, they put metal sand ladders
under the tires. Then, the driver puts the car in low gear and
drives out of the sastrugi with everyone pushing. In ten
minutes, you are free from your sandy prison and on your way.
Only a fool would die of thirst trapped in soft sastrugi.
Life has a great deal of soft
sastrugi. Many times it stops you in your tracks as you become
mired down in difficulty. At that point, you have a choice.
You can throw in the towel and surrender staying perpetually
mired in the problems of life. You can sit there feeling sorry
for yourself, thinking up dozens of reasons why you will never
overcome your difficulties. The other choice is to deal with
your problems and get going again.
Everyone occasionally becomes
stuck soft sastrugi. Itís not your fault when you bog down, but
staying stuck is your fault. When you bog down with problems,
itís not the time to surrender. Instead, you take immediate
action; you get out the shovels and sand ladders, you lower the
air pressure in your tires, you get your friends to start
pushing, and you start driving. Soon, the soft sastrugi is in
your rear view mirror. Although soft sastrugi happens, you
donít need to be permanently immobilized by it.
You are going to experience a
great deal of hard and soft sastrugi in your life.
When sastrugi happens, you can be traumatized by it, or you can
get stuck in it, but the smartest thing to do is drive around
Careful drivers keep a sharp
lookout for sastrugi. You can usually see it in the distance and
avoid it. Ninety-five percent of the time, a good driver sees
sastrugi ahead of time and drives around it. Five percent of
the time, even the best driver will be traumatized by hard
sastrugi or immobilized by soft sastrugi. The only way to
completely avoid sastrugi is to stop driving.
Ninety-five percent of the problems that you have in life can be
avoided by keeping a sharp lookout, but five percent of your
problems are unavoidable. Donít become terminally traumatized
or immobilized by the sastrugi of life. Be prepared to ride out
the hard sastrugi and dig out of the soft sastrugi, because the
only way to reach your dreams is to keep on driving.
DO NOT FEAR THE SASTRUGI OF LIFE
Although sastrugi may be
unpleasant, you should never fear it. People who are afraid of
sastrugi are afraid of life. The Life Long Disoriented believe
the purpose of life is to avoid all sastrugi. They have gotten
things backwards. Sastrugi happens because you are making a
life. If you donít have sastrugi in your life, itís because you
arenít going anywhere or doing anything.
I have had a life full of
sastrugi. Every challenge and every adventure was full of it.
If you took all of the sastrugi out of my life, I would never
have gone anywhere, and I would never have done anything.
I would never have gotten
married. I would never have had children. I would never have
performed ophthalmic surgery. I would never have driven my Land
Rovers in the deserts of Arabia or the outback of Australia. I
would never have sailed around the world on my sailboat. I
would never have worked in Panama, Puerto Rico, Liberia, Kenya,
or Saudi Arabia. I would have missed all of the great
adventures of my life.
If you donít have sastrugi in
your life, youíre not taking large enough risks, and youíre not
moving in the direction of your dreams. Sastrugi happens to
everyone, and if you want to have an extraordinary life, you
must become a master at handling hard and soft sastrugi. When
sastrugi happens, you must keep on keeping on. You must never
quit, because youíre on the way to your dreams.
GO TO NEXT
PUMP SOME MENTAL IRON
You have unlimited potential for excellence.
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