Hiking as a metaphor for life...

You know that old saying, life is a journey not a destination, enjoy it? Well, those powerful words were something that I'd heard but never fully experienced until last fall during my first hike. I trekked up a mountain along the majestic California Central coastline. Alone. A first time experience and part of a long weekend getaway where I treated myself to being with me. It's what I call having scared moments with self and one of my Ten Commandments for Life that I write about in my book. I traveled to Cali on business and decided to spent  a few extra days in meditation and self care celebrating an upcoming birthday. These holy moments that I champion-- on a daily basis --  can happen anywhere on not just in exotic locations or far away from home. It's more about being still and really feeling being alive, and this of course, happens where ever you are. Yes, you reading this post!  These moments are vital because in the business of living our lives, we forget to live, breathe and be. Other things take over. And it's important to take a moment each day to sit still, recharge, revitalize and reenergize the soul. I savor moments like these and jealously carve them into my schedule because I matter. These holy moments are more compelling when experienced in the midst of nature-- a park, a river, an ocean, under the great day or night sky. When you can go outside do, you will also be able to be connected to your inside...

This particular trail was for intermediate walkers and it was mostly up a mountain for two miles. I remember that for the first few minutes of the walk, I was charmed by the newness of my experience. My surroundings, the lush flora, moss covered Sycamore trees, wildflowers of all colors, birds of all sizes, color, and song and other creatures were the background soundtrack because after the first few minutes of my climb I began obsessing about getting to the top. I'd been told that the payoff was large -- an extraordinary view of the magnificent Pacific coastline. I remember I bumped into two hikers making their way down and I asked each of them, desperately, "how long till I get to the top? It depends, each responded, one hour, 20 minutes, it's all up to your pace."

Then it hit me, I had missed all the beauty that surrounded me in the first half hour of the walk because I was stubbornly focused on the end result. Aha moments happen in unexpected moments. Mine was smack in the middle of this early morning trek.

I remember thinking that if I only focused on reaching the summit, I was going to miss all the teeming beauty that engulfed me during my journey. And how sad that would be, for me. At that moment, my pace slowed down and all my senses were awakened. I began to see smell, see, feel and hear more clearly the extraordinary beauty the region offered. I heard some leaves shuffling and turned to catch a small doe having breakfast. She looked at me briefly and I swear her eyes twinkled, then she went back to eating. My presence did not threaten her. I was not threatened by hers. Then a few birds with deep blue feathers and dark rooster-like crests flew by and perched themselves on nearby branches. They just chilled out there. The Sycamore trees, with their lush graceful branches, swayed softly in the early morning breeze. I smelled the earth which was warm and wet from the night rains. The sun played hide and seek as I walked up slowly. I took everything in.

It was in the midst of this experience that I was fully able to understand the power of being present, the power of the sage words about life being a journey, and the ancients saying, enjoy it, what's the hurry? Soon enough, without even noticing, I reached the top, and just as I'd been promised, it was a glorious view of the blue Pacific. What I discovered though was that the view of the summit, as glorious and remarkable as it was, was no less gorgeous than each step that brought me there.

I took with me the lesson of the experience: savor each step of my life with clarity and presence. Soon enough I will get to whatever destination I am heading and my journey will be enriched because of it. So will yours...


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