I live in a beautiful little house in the foothills of Boulder, CO. Our home is ideally situated between several mountains, perched on a ridge and can be seen from the surrounding areas in all directions. Our neighborhood is filled with windy, twisty roads, some with the same name and folks often get lost up and down the sides of the mountains.
This morning Koda, our Samoyed pup, and I decided to take a walk. Instead of our normal predictable path, we set out in the opposite direction. We were both invigorated by the cooler fall temperatures and the glorious burst of color splashed across the leaves of the trees. Having spent the last five weeks in northwest Washington, it was so good to be back home.
We walked for more than a half hour, mostly uphill, when I realized I was on a road that I wasn’t familiar with. I had allowed my thoughts to wander to various topics and wasn’t paying attention to where we were walking. Not being used to being back in the higher altitude, I found myself winded. Even Koda was looking at me with a “Mom, can we go home now” expression. The difficult thing is, I could see our home through the trees, just across the ridge, perched on the hill just shining in the sun, but I wasn’t sure the fastest way to get there, without just turning around. I thought there had to be an easier path back if I just kept going. I knew the road was a loop, or at least I thought it was.
We trudged on up and down hills as another half hour passed and the road continued to wind in all directions. I could still see the house but it didn’t seem like I was getting any closer. Do you know how frustrating it is to see something and not be able to get there? I thought of bush-whacking it through the woods, over rocks, down through ravines and just taking the straight line approach, but that seemed even crazier than staying on the road. We have mountain lions in our area and I feel safer on the roads than sneaking through the rocky secluded areas where I’ve seen the big cats. But these hills were kicking my butt. I think a month at sea level turned me into a wimp! My heart was beating rapidly and I was getting tired.
My rapid heartbeat reminded me of an interview I did yesterday with Puron Bair, a Sufi master. He teaches heart-based meditation where you breathe in and out, matching the words “I am” to your heart beat. When I was practicing this on the telephone with him yesterday, it was like I…….am…….I……am……..I…….am. Nice, easy, slow and smooth. I was relaxed and it was easy to connect to that greater part of me from that place of calm stillness.
Today as my heart was racing, it was more like I am.I am.I am.I am.I am. It was more difficult to connect when life was coming at me so fast. Koda and I sat down to take a break. We were both tired and the house seemed as far away as it did 30 minutes earlier. I wanted to just beam myself to the house now! If I could have quit I would have, but I had no choice but to continue.
I thought of how this hike is so like life. We have a goal, head in that direction and sometimes get lost in the twists and turns of life, or in this case, the roads. Sometimes we want to quit. I even wrote about this in my GPS Persistence blog a few days ago! I had to remind myself that the shorter, more direct route may not always be the safest. However, we can never give up. Sometime when we want to give up the best thing we can do is just focus on putting one foot in front of the other, even if we’re tired and don’t want to and even if we’re only taking baby steps. Baby steps add up and we’re still moving toward our goal. We only lose when we give up. If you keep on persisting you’ll always reach your goal, as long as you don’t give up.
I thought about the areas in my life where I’m tempted to give up. But no, I’m not a quitter! I know that the only way I can lose is if I voluntarily give up. No one can make me quit but me!
As I reminded myself of this, I smiled, jumped up with renewed strength, put one foot in front of the other and about a half hour later I was drinking cool water and eating an apple on our deck. Home at last. We didn’t give up, and eventually we made it. Yes, we were hot, tired and thirsty, but that just made me more grateful for the cool water. I’m glad we took the hike, and I’m glad we didn’t give up. And as for Koda, he fell asleep within minutes of returning home and is still snoozing on the cool tile. Life is so good.