Several years ago my daughter and I took a summer road trip to New Mexico where we both attended yoga camp. There was a string of “firsts” for me during this week long adventure. Someday I will write a book about these and what I learned from them. But today I want to talk about a moment I had on a mountain.
This was a women’s yoga camp. I pitched my first tent and slept in it all week, I had a break down in a porta potty and had to take cold showers every morning. But the hike up this mountain left a lasting impression on me that I think yesterday finally brought everything into context for me.
I signed up to take an afternoon hike up this mountain. There were about 20 other women that were also going. I had never hiked before this trek and was ill prepared for this day trip. I wore flip flops. (Yes, you read that correctly.) I didn’t have any hiking gear. The elevation was way higher than what I was used to before we started up the mountain. My goal? To get there first.
Up to this point, my work life had been a successful and quick rise towards the top. I worked hard and found myself moving up the ladder faster than normal. I had gone back to school to work on my second masters degree. And I made sure I didn’t miss anything that my kids had going on at school. I was in great shape, so why shouldn’t I make it up this mountain first? This was my mindset at the base of the hill. As we began to climb, it went from an easy path of worn down grass to slippery rocks to needing to climb over big rocks. Like I did in business, I identified who in the group were the leaders and put myself close to them at the beginning of the climb. They, of course, were hikers and easily could have left me in the dust. Instead, they paced me. They took turns talking to me as we climbed the mountain. In hindsight, this was their break time and a chance to slow down while the others got their vigorous work out in. Then they would switch. About half way up, my flip flops became a slippery problem maneuvering over terrain that was not meant for shoes that weren’t actually attached to your feet. (I think I did part of the climb barefoot.) But, being the strong willed woman that I am, I wasn’t going to let a little problem like being ill prepared stop me from getting to the top of that mountain.
At the halfway mark, I had to stop and take a break. It was in this break my life began to change. I had a moment to look up. What a saw was an amazing 360 degree view of the world! Man, it was gorgeous. I wondered when this view got there. I hadn’t noticed that while I was busy trying to force my way to the top of the mountain. In that moment I had such a deep gratitude to the women who got me to the this point. In business, my experience had been that women walked all over each other instead of pacing and supporting each other. The pacing on this trip gave me this gift of seeing content in what I was doing. Eventually, I made it to the top of the mountain, not first but I was seriously pleased to make it at all. I ate the most delicious cheese sandwich I have ever tasted sitting at the top of that mountain and enjoyed the view immensely.
The lessons I got on that mountain have permeated throughout my life as the years have gone on:
1. Slow down and look up or your going to miss the most beautiful view!
2. It’s okay to let others help you. In fact, the journey is more fun with someone to talk to.
3. Wear the right shoes for the occasion. : )
Most importantly, that mountain taught me that the content of my contentment was right before my eyes. I just had to look up. I had to stop chasing contentment and enjoy what I had right before me. When I did that, the speed in which the world was whirling around me slowed and I was able to truly enjoy what life was offering me. Over the years, I often go back to that day and remember that view. Then, I look up and open my eyes. The content in my contentment is sitting right there, waiting for me to see and the view is pretty spectacular.
Look up today and see the beauty around you. Take a breath. Repeat. -Namaste