There’s Always Mud In Life, and The Smart People Stay Out of It At All Costs


My family and I looked out over the canyon that we were on the edge of. The sky was a light blue with a bit of fluffy clouds floating around, and the air smelled of rain and earth. We stared at the cathedral like spires made of clay, silt, and volcanic ash. All around us, these formations rose like stalagmites reaching towards the sky. This was Cathedral Gorge, a park close to the small town of Panaca where my grandpa was raised. We were passing through for a cousin’s wedding and decided to explore a bit. My brother, his wife, and their two children had followed behind us since we started traveling from western Nevada that morning. We were in the motor home, so their kids rode with us for a while. We decided to go down into the canyon for a bit of exploring. Since my dad was familiar with the area, he suggested that we hike down until we reached the end of the canyon and he would meet us there. After all, it’s always easier to hike down than to hike back up. We started down the steps made of railroad ties. We watched our footing carefully since falling didn’t look too promising with all the jagged formations surrounding us. We reached the bottom and hiked towards the end. My youngest brother, Jed, wandered around with his usual bliss at being in a place with limitless hiking. My brother and sister-in-law hung behind to get some alone time, I hovered over my niece and nephew to keep them out of trouble and mud, and Mom took a million pictures, which was expected. We reached the end and watched as my dad came bouncing down the small, rutted dirt road. You would think he would avoid such roads, but my dad is a different kind of driver. He can take a motorhome anywhere, as he proved later in the trip when he went through Provo canyon with ice and snow surrounding us. That was nothing compared to the road that was on the ridge of a mountain. We weren’t scared, though. He can handle that motorhome like it’s part of him. We decided to explore a bit more before going into Panaca, so we headed towards some nearby slot canyons. As soon as we stepped inside, a rush of cool air hit us. It felt wonderful. The ground was a bit slick in here, so we had to be careful. We ducked through ‘rabbit holes’ that led to endless paths to be explored. The clay rose sharply on either side of us, and we could see the blue sky far above. We wandered for a bit and tested the echoes in the canyons. After a while, we made our way back out since our schedule was tight, asusual. We headed towards the motor home, walking in the cool shadow of  a mountain made of jagged clay spires. My sister, Ada, decided to make a slight detour off the path we were traveling to get closer to some small pinnacles that were on a slight uprise towards the mountain. The ground was in the shade, but it didn’t look any more slippery than what we had been walking on. She sauntered with purpose towards them, when suddenly she was down in the mud. We stared in surprise. Things had escalated, or maybe de-escalated, 

very quickly. We didn’t have much time to process this turn of events before Jed came jogging towards the slippery mud with his usual exuberant bliss. I yelled, “Jed, don’t go—” but it was too late. His feet went out from under him in a second and he hit the ground with a thud. Jed started crying, which is normal for him. Boy, were they in a mess now. Mom went to lend him a hand and they both managed to get out with no further slips. I couldn’t help laughing a bit as I looked on. Ada was still in the mud, so I edged my way toward her with extreme caution. It didn’t look too bad; it didn’t look much different from the other clay we were walking on. I stepped in it cautiously. 1 step. 2 steps. I was down. I flung my arms under me and managed to catch myself in a bridge position. That was the most slippery mud I had ever stepped on in my life. There was no way I could keep myself from falling once I stepped in that mud. I was completely helpless. Now I was done for. Tears streamed down my face as I laughed. I laughed and laughed. How had we gotten, all three of us, covered with mud? Why hadn’t we been more cautious after Ada took her spill? Everyone laughed along with me, and I finally got up and stepped out of the mud. Things had been more slippery than they seemed. We walked back to the motor home, still laughing, where we hosed ourselves off to the best of our abilities. The motorhome would need a good cleaning when we got home. This wasn’t the only mess I had gotten into in my life. The others were much stickier in a completely different way. How many times will I  have to watch other people fall before I can identify the danger of the mud, literal and figurative? There’s always mud in life, and the smart people stay out of it at all costs. 

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