When Marshall’s dad dies from a heart attack in How I Met Your Mother, Marshall and Ted retreat to the Eriksen home in Minnesota – one to grieve, the other to catch his breath from a fast-moving relationship. After a few weeks marked by obscene amounts of both video games and snacks, Marshall finally opens up. “I miss my dad, Ted. I miss him so much.”
Marshall explains that when he was a child, the family would spend the summers camping at a remote cabin, usually driving all night to get there. Sitting in the middle seat in the back, Marshall could never see anything in the pitch black beyond the headlights. “But I always felt so safe ’cause my dad was driving. He was like some sort of superhero who could just see way out into the darkness. Now he’s just gone. And it’s pitch black. And I can’t see where I’m going. I can’t see anything.”
Later in the episode, the pair realizes they have to go home and face their messy realities. Since there’s a massive snow storm and thus no flights, they end up driving through the night with Marshall at the wheel. As he squints and stares into the darkness, trying to see where he’s going, his father appears in the back seat. “Here’s a secret,” he says. “I couldn’t see worth a damn, either, buddy. I just kept driving forward, hoping for the best.”
Sometimes, we march ahead for so long, we forget why we’re marching. These are times to pull over, have a sandwich, and recalibrate your navigation system.
Sometimes, however, life gets so dark and foggy, you won’t see anything. You’ll have no idea where you’re going. In those moments, all you can do is keep driving – and hope for the best.
Even in complete darkness, don’t lose faith completely. All roads lead somewhere, including the ones you don’t know. You might not end up at the right place, but you’ll still sit behind a steering wheel. You can always turn the car around and try a new direction. Sooner or later, the sun will come up, and the clouds will disappear.
Until then, just keep driving. It’s what billions before you have done, most of whom eventually reached their final destination.