I live in Central Switzerland amidst mountains and lakes. Some weeks ago, when Winter had turned into Spring, I put on my walking shoes started walking up a nearby mountain. I found it hard going for the path was steep, and my fitness was just not good enough for that walk to be my first walk of the year. There is a difference between walking 20+km around a flat lake, and doing the same when it’s a 2000m tall mountain.
Whilst I was walking up, up, and up, I failed to keep pace with those ahead of me. And, those behind me caught up and overtook me effortlessly. Left behind, I found myself listening to a bruised ego telling me to speed up, and catch-up with others. Thankfully, I didn’t listen. Instead, I simply kept walking up that mountain at my own pace. I got there in my own time and my own way – and importantly I enjoyed the walk and the day.
In human existence there are all kinds of mountains, not just the physical ones. How to approach them?
Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you are no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. There are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the side of the mountains which sustains life, not the top. Here’s where things grow.
But of course, without the top you can’t have any sides. It’s the top that defines the sides. So on we go…..we have a long way…..no hurry…..just one step after the next.Robert M. Pirsig, Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
I hope that you get what Robert Pirsig is getting at. Why? Because he is getting at something fundamental. A way of showing up and travelling through life that is rare in the western world especially with city dwellers.
Until the next time….