Posts Tagged ‘Observation’

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.

Benefits From Observing Nature

We connect with spirit in many ways. Art expresses the inner self while music transports to realms of new insights and self-discovery. Observing nature also opens horizons of new perspectives as we progressively move through life. Nature can whisk us on to the very core of our spirit and soul.DSCN0310

Connecting with nature through mindful observation provides countless opportunities to learn, grow, gain wisdom, receive guidance, and resolve difficult situations. Views of nature become more active and less passive when you integrate and partner with nature instead of being apart from nature. When you pause in a garden, merely letting the cares and concerns of the day slip by, you may find yourself visited by a butterfly, bird, or small woodland residents like a chipmunk or squirrel. Stay a while longer, sit on the grass among the flowers, mindfully pick out one personal concern then give it out to the Universe. For example, “What can I do to begin improving my life”? Then, let the thought go and return to simply watching and observing the butterflies, birds, and chipmunks. Nature becomes your partner as you follow the inhabitants, watching them with not only the eyes of an observer but the eyes of a participant. Observe, seeing if any of them or anything new presents itself, mainly if they do something unusual. Then ask yourself and the Universe how this may or may not relate to your question.

A dear friend of mine often said, “Remember to look to the little things.” Maybe the butterfly lands on your nose, followed with the thought, “The answer is as plain as the nose on your face.” So, you move on to the next level, by seeking further insights. Crow1Suddenly, a crow incessantly caws ruining your solitude… but is he? He annoyingly returns a few more times, nothing else happens, so you despairingly leave the garden to attend your day’s activities.

For some reason, that irritating old crow returns to your mind. What a pain! It persistently interrupted your wonder-filled moments of solitude by coming back time after time cawing and cawing, sometimes close enough to slap. What made that crow act like it did? Curiosity causes you to study crows. Your study leads to a book that moves beyond their physical characteristics and on to their spiritual qualities. You discover crows depict personal truth.  The answer rings clear, all the pieces come together as the answer to your question reveals itself. “What can I do to begin improving my life”? Begin by being true to your self or walking in your own truth instead of someone else’s.

Another example with the same circumstances, but this time, you just want to sit in a garden for relaxation. Without posing questions to the Universe, being quiet and alone are your only goals… but the crow still keeps coming by. That afternoon, the next day, or a week later, something happens, causing you to return to those moments with the crow in your mind. Perhaps you found yourself in a situation where you know you should have followed your feelings and “spoken your truth,” but you didn’t. Then you did the same research and found the same reference of speaking your truth, honoring your truth, or practically speaking, be true to yourself. In the first instance, you sought guidance. In the second, the Universe provided the crow to teach a valuable life lesson. Nature provides countless examples when you take time out of your day to simply enjoy being a part of nature.

Learning to look beyond the academics of species and genders opens up our hearts and spirits to infinite lessons and practical teachings, transforming us into better people. We enjoy spring at The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Everything is brimming with life. The rose gardens near the conservatory are effervescent with the aromas of roses. Consider a tea rose. The tea rose is classified as flora, plant life, a flower… simply a flower. But it may not be that simple. Certain specific characteristics classify it further as a rose then, depending on who identified or created the strain, the particular group, and type of tea rose is determined. That is one view. Our senses begin to awaken feelings. Focusing on the gentle fragrance blended with delicate beauty, we are transported to another dimension of appreciation. Like the aroma of freshly baked bread stimulates our physical appetite for physical nourishment, the rose may stimulate spiritual nourishment. The spiritual applications are endless, limited only by our current needs in life. This takes us to the next step.

We may be facing a dilemma in life that may appear complicated, layered with countless alternatives. A nature walk seems an appropriate tonic for our muddled confusion. While walking, we stop short of stepping on a small wild rose, still in its budding stage. For some unknown reason, the little bud seems to call us in for a closer look. We observe enough of the small rose to see shades of pink blended with a bit of pastel yellow. Scrutiny adds a delicate aroma to our observation. Looking around, we see it is alone in the dirt, with no apparent support or help.

A gentle feeling begins to envelop us like a warm and tender hug from a loved one. This little rose will soon become a beacon of beauty out of the dirt. Creator will help open the petals, so it can become what it is meant to be. Then, the practical application blossoms, presenting an answer to our dilemma! If Creator can unfold petals of beauty out of just a root and some dirt, what can happen in our lives if we stop trying to do everything for ourselves? If we relinquish control to Creator and the Universe, what beautiful creation can come from the apparent dilemma? We return our thoughts to the conundrum with another view. We claim a renewed assurance that circumstances can work themselves out and hopeless situations fade. As long as we stay focused and devote ourselves to the given task, the Universe can handle the details. All this, from watching and observing a little rose… paying attention to a seemingly insignificant part of nature; watching a small thing. Think of the other treasures that await our discovery.

Several avenues transport us into the environments providing opportunities to get away from the ruts of life and back to nature. A hike in the woods nearby, caring for the small garden in an urban setting, or weekend volunteer ventures that benefit the environment. Take your choice, but begin by strolling and enjoying simple truths taught through nature.

We desire to learn how to become better people or better souls. These desires can be met by observing nature. The cliché “getting back to nature” suggests something has been left behind or ignored from life. Perhaps we should reclaim the wealth of knowledge available to us through taking time to observe and become a part of the natural world around us.


Silent Walking