Several years ago, I spent a week at The Ashram in Calabasas, California. It’s a simple place that will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. All twelve guests at the Ashram do yoga together as the sun rises before going out to hike for 5 – 6 hours in the Santa Monica Mountains.
On my fifth day there we did a silent hike. It was the warmest day, and it was the steepest climb. I’m not much of a hiker, and I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to make it. I looked up toward the summit, felt the anxiety rising in my throat and wondered if I should quit. I didn’t have my phone with me. I’d have to walk down and wait for someone to come find me. That didn’t seem like a good idea. Or, I could suck it up and keep going, which didn’t seem so great either.
I took a step forward. ‘OK,’ I said to myself. ‘You took that step, and you’re not falling over. Can you take another step?’
‘Yes,’ I replied, to myself, (obediently practicing silence), ‘I can take another step.’ So I took another step. I asked myself again, ‘Are you OK right now?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘OK, then, take another step.’ In this deliberate manner, step by conscious step, I made it to the top of the mountain.
E. L. Doctorow, an American novelist, once said, “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
Since March 2020, I’ve wanted to amend Doctorow’s quote. “Being alive is like driving at night in the fog.” What will 2024 bring us? Who knows?!? But I’m prepping for the climb, planning on taking it step by step, hoping that there will be plenty of great views and fellow hikers along the way.
I wish you a delightful and restorative holiday season and all the courage, ingenuity, and stamina you’ll need for your own climb in the year ahead!
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