Posts Tagged ‘Letting Go’

Climbing the Mountain of Life

Living in the mountains of Western Maine offered several delightful memories including breathtaking vistas all year whether verdant spring greens, a dramatic pallet of fall colors, or white cotton snow.  After living near oceans, in the subtropics, and the desert southwest, my favorite place to call home remains among mountains, now the mountains of western North Carolina.  DSCN1735.jpegOther geographical sites offer their own beauty, but the mountains… they offer a splendor, ofttimes beyond words.  We can observe the weather-worn peaks of our mountains close-up or far away, each one with its own unique beauty.     

    Observing these magnificent mountains generates a deep sense of appreciation, climbing them takes us to other peaks of gratitude, including respect, joy, exuberance, satisfaction, and maybe fear. Doesn’t traveling through life offer those same levels of recognition?  So then, climbing a mountain could equate with moving through life, not only on the cited levels but many others.  No wonder wise sages, philosophers, poets, screenwriters, and many others use the analogy of climbing a mountain when contemplating life.     

    My good friend and mentor, Ken Two Feathers, compared life to climbing a mountain. “We’re all climbing the same mountain.  There may be different paths for different people, but we’re seeking the same summit.  We all have our own path, and the path we choose is the one that feels right to us.” Not everyone has the same path.  That is an essential truth.  Someone may not be doing the same thing as you or I.  It may be entirely different from our way of thinking.  As long as no one and nothing is being hurt as they climb their mountain, who are we to criticize?

    As a path is chosen to scale a mountain, it is determined based on our own abilities and limitations.  We decide to hike a particular way because it suits us.  It fits us.  Others may follow, but they will not experience it in the same manner.  We can even show others a route to take, but they have to hike it to experience it.  We cannot walk it for them.IMG_3201.jpeg

    When obstacles block or complicate the hike, we may choose to walk around, climb over, or even temporarily seek another route to avoid the obstacle.  No one else can hike it for us.  We must place one foot in front of the other and continue to move forward.  A guide can point the way, but it is we that must make the journey to learn.  Even if we follow someone else’s lead, choices remain, to continue, rest, or quit. Screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski once said, “Never follow somebody else’s path; it doesn’t work the same way twice for anyone… the path follows you and rolls up behind you as you walk, forcing the next person to find their own way.”     

    When you think about climbing a mountain from this perspective, living life takes on a deeper meaning. In life, it is easier to follow someone else who’s been there.  That is an excellent first choice, but at some point, we must move ahead on our own to learn our own life’s lessons.  The juvenile fledgling will never learn to fly until it leaves the safety of the nest.  Sometimes the parent pushes it out because she really does love her offspring.    

    So how do we create our own pathway as we scale the mountain?  The answer is simple.  The action may not be.  As we walk our path one step at a time, gather and evaluate information from our friends and mentors.  How does their guidance relate to us and our own needs and circumstances?  Some advice may fit well while another may not.  We must choose.  When we falter, don’t give up.  Stop.  Evaluate. Choose an alternative, and move on, one step at a time, then another, and so on.  We may still seek wise counsel on how to proceed from the same people or new ones we meet along the way, but they do not walk the path for us; we must walk the trail on our own.  We may even strike out and blaze a brand new trail.  Move forward.  Keep moving.  Seek rest when needed.  Make sure to take what you need along the way and above all, enjoy the journey! That’s the way we climb life’s mountain path.

    Our reward, like climbing any mountain, is the elated sense of accomplishment we claim, for our own, when we view the world from the summit of life’s lessons.

Become the Butterfly

It’s been said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” Please understand, I’m not against planning and organization, they keep us focused. Consider this though, how’s our willingness to change so we can improve, grow, and strive to become our highest and greatest self? Joseph Campbell provided some sound guidance about this. “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is awaiting us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one is to come.

caterpillar-3529835_1920    Just imagine if a caterpillar decided, “All I wish to do is eat” never allowing the metamorphosis to take place. I wonder if the caterpillar even knows of its destiny to change before its urge to spin and encapsulate itself in a cocoon, shed its old skin, and expend all its energy to transform into the magnificent splendor of a butterfly? Or is it merely willing to go with the flow, relinquish its own plans, and move on to its unknown destiny?
Storytellers, authors, even history share incredible accounts of how the hero enters as an average “Joe” or “Jane.” They then face an insurmountable challenge which often demands changes in life, attitude, and environment. The changes usually cost them everything, including their life as they know, to pursue this quest. Despite hardships, our hero moves on, driven to complete the challenge. We listen, read, or watch intently as the story unfolds. The hero or heroine continues on, despite challenge after challenge.
Further hardships encumber their journey, but they are tenacious. We even may ask, as their story unfolds, why… why don’t they just quit? As we become even more engrossed in the story, we wonder, what keeps them going? Given, some know and see their goal, yet others, like the caterpillar, do not. Some of these familiar stories include tantalizing opportunities for a return to the safety and security of their ordinary past life, one far less complicated life than their present circumstances. After all… wouldn’t that be easier? Though we’re just following the story, we even get frustrated, wishing to jump right into the account screaming “Just quit!”. But they don’t quit, something urges them, drives them on as though their very existence demands they continue their quest.
The hero keeps going, keeps shedding their figurative skin of old ways and habits in pursuit of their new life. When they reach the goal, we applaud their success, shed tears of joy, and cheer for their victory.
Our own reality returns.
We wish we could be like that person. We sigh, wipe away the tears, shrug our shoulders, and return to the familiar, a life we know, a life of safety. Our events are safe, known, with no surprises waiting around shadowed corners. Some, however, recognize they have the same “stuff.” All they need to do is embrace a willingness to change. Shed their old skin, pursue their own magnificent life, and achieve the perceived impossible.
Life is full of opportunities. cocoon-39353_1920Sometimes we, like the caterpillar, incubate as the changes evolve. Similar to embryos, we grow into maturity, to become the hero of our own story. As the hero, tantalizing opportunities may emerge tempting us to stray from our quest, though they are really just tests. All we need to do is continue our journey. Don’t run from the coming challenge, embrace it! Believe and accept our true destiny. Then the inner beauty of true self will emerge. But death to our old ways must take place.
We are so much more than the shell that is our body. The process of death and resurrection is demonstrated throughout nature, only “death” isn’t dead. Death’s a transformation, a metamorphosis, that must take place to allow the beauty within to come forth. The caterpillar doesn’t hold on to its cocoon, it casts it aside because the old skin has no value, no purpose, in the new vibrant and beautiful life. So, as we enter into the transformative changed life offered to us, don’t hang on to the things that no longer contribute to our metamorphosis. Lay them aside, emerge from your cocoon, and enjoy your flight as the butterfly.
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We are as butterflies waiting to shed the old and emerge into the magnificent splendor of our true nature and destiny… a spiritual being enjoying the nectar of each flower during our human experience.