May you have amazing and yes, sometimes challenging experiences,
and may you continue to rise to meet them.
And may they be VERY LIBERALLY interwoven with
wonderful quiet moments gazing at the clouds,
playing with friends and peacefully loving it all.
I Remember the hard timesof the past
This morning one of my clients forwarded the Story People’s "Story of the Day", which says, in part:
“Maybe I don’t want a happy new year. Maybe I want an intense new year with a lot of growth experiences…"
As she forwarded the email, she said: “Gee, why can't we have intensely happy growth experiences?!”
This is actually a question I have thought a lot about for a lot of years. It’s a question that in some ways goes to the heart of what I do, because it has to do with what I create for myself, with my unconscious beliefs and expectations. I don’t claim to have a definitive answer – mostly, I have a few stories and memories, which lead to my current conclusions.
I remember noticing, long ago, that the memories I enjoy the most are the ones that have some pretty big challenge in the story.
I remember the backpacking trip when the mosquitoes were so bad that we invented elaborate mosquito tortures around the campfire at night, to keep ourselves sane. (The winner – a fantasy of disassembling a flashlight bulb, cutting the filament, hooking one wing to each filament, and turning the light on and off).
I remember the hike down into the Grand Canyon that almost crippled my knees.
I remember the climb up Gunsight when we lingered too long on top, and a storm blew in. We had to rappel down through instant waterfalls and scramble over the talus slope like crabs, because we had no flashlights.
I really don’t think that often about all the times in beautiful meadows, laying in the grass and watching the clouds blow over, kneeling to drink from a stream because we still could, laughing and being silly. I mean – I remember them, but somehow they are not the memories that have stuck with me. (Perhaps if I did, that would lead me to view THOSE as my growth opportunities. Which gives me some wonderful new food for thought.)
As it is, I think I remember the trips I do because I learned something about myself when the chips were down.
Also in those times, I was in a state of flow – which Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines as those times when our level of skill and the level of challenge are well matched. We are right on the edge, in both directions – there’s a big challenge, and we reach deeply and find we have the skill to meet it.
In his book The Raven’s Gift, Jon Turk , a world class adventurer, speaks to what draws a person into intense adventures and expeditions:
Right now it didn’t matter where I was going or why I was out here; both my physical and spiritual survival hinged on the three attributes of my new mantra: mindfulness, curiosity and observation.
Many people think that outdoor adventure is mainly a confrontation with danger and adrenaline-laced fear. Those elements exist, of course, but for most of us expeditions provide an arena where we are forced to use our right brain to intuit complex situations in mysterious landscapes, much as the herders learn to avert a nighttime wolf attack. Thus expeditions summon a joyful reliance on deeply buried senses, where failure is not an option.
I’m thinking about this quite a lot today as I review last year and look forward to what’s next.
I guess I come down to this wish:
That I will have amazing and yes, sometimes challenging experiences, and that I will continue to rise to meet them.
And that they will be VERY LIBERALLY interwoven with wonderful quiet moments gazing at the clouds, exploring the red rocks, playing with friends and sitting peacefully loving it all.
Namaste and Happy New Year.