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Life can be full of potholes

This may be the Easter season but right now Easter is being forced to share its season with a subtle yet powerful force known to highway and city transportation departments across that land as, the pothole.

These roadway pockmarks do to your morning drive what a yapping neighbor's dog does to your Saturday morning sleep-in, hard candy to your next dentist appointment, pasta to your waistline, alcohol to your brain cells and a wife to your night out with the boys.

They're sneaky little devils that recruit water, ice, you, me and even sunshine to do their dirty work. And what makes them especially irritating is that, once formed, each indentation appears to take on the shape of a slight smirk, especially when you see them through a rear view mirror after they've launched your Starbucks skyward, misaligned your dental work and destroyed your car's front end alignment.

For those of you who don't know potholes from peepholes, potholes form because asphalt road surfaces crack from the heat of day and the constant stresses of traffic, not unlike pizza delivery boys after three wrong addresses and a traffic fine.

These cracks invite snow and rainwater into underlying gravel like Los Angeles nightclub bouncers wave babes wearing miniskirts and spiked heels through their front doors and during cold winter nights the water freezes, expands and pushes the gravel out. And the next thing you know there's nothing left but a big hole with a thin asphalt topping ready to collapse as you drive over it with your SUV, four-wheeler or Harley on your way to pickup the pizza that the pizza boy never delivered.

Now you might think that the term "pothole" dates all the way back to Roman times, or when the first roadways were built, which historians believe was about 4000 B.C. or just before Joe Biden was born. But apparently the term is a mere 180 years old, and only began describing pesky pits in roads since around 1826. Prior to that it was used to describe geological features in glaciers and gravel beds, with pot, in this sense, meaning "a deep hole for a mine," as opposed to something that Grateful Dead fans smoke for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Whatever its original meaning, there are countless people who grew up driving Model As on prairie trails, wondering what all the fuss is about. Because back then they expected a roller coaster ride with nothing but potholes whereas we, the fortunate few, expect to float on air and multitask while we drive and make cell phone calls, send text messages, change radio stations, CDs, the kids DVDs and our minds every five minutes.

And it's ironic, isn't it, that pothole season coincides with Easter, especially since grace and forgiveness is something we could all use in abundance after uttering those colorful and memorable post pothole phrases.

And what better example or analogy is there than herds of potholes popping up unannounced and unprompted to force change and adjustment, contemplation and patience, maturity and dependence, heartache and longing in our lives, to what aim we don't know, except that it forces us to laugh as much as we breathe and love as long as we live.

For as Maria Robinson, the fiction writer noted, "Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."

Because, after all, it's all about leaning your ladder against the right building. And as irritating as they might be, real potholes force you, more than anything, to do just that.

-- Holten is the Dickinson State University Foundation communications director.