The Gradual Way

"An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day". -Henry David Thoreau

My retreat weekend was like mixing a spa with a monastary. Time filled with massage, yoga, devotions and prayer, I returned home with soothing peace. I wish everyone could take 48 hours to be more mindful of life.

During the weekend, I spent one morning climbing a large, weedy hill. To be honest it was more of a crawl. My biggest mistake? Going straight up.

I've been though enough coaching to know that most obstacles are in our minds. My pep talks accompanied my craziness, don't give up, persevere, you are stronger than you think. However, this strategy only works to a point and when I found myself scaling perpendicular rocks, many of which were loose and sliding, I discovered a great truth–falling rocks are falling rocks. I was stuck. A knees shaking, arms clenching, grab anything within reach type of stuck. It was my sister who rescued me with her own step-by-step pep talks, bringing me back to safety.

How true is this to my life? The shortest, quickest route (going straight up) is not always the smartest option. Record time does not equate record living. In fact, the shortest, quickest climb up the hill caused me to abandon my goal. The gradual, steady-goes-the-coarse, one-step-at-a-time path eventually gets us to where we want to go. It may feel like we are winding back and forth, wasting time, never getting anywhere. Still the likelihood of making it to the top is statistically higher than going any other way.

On our descent my sister and I zig-zagged sideways towards a lone birch tree, growing amidst many pine. Here we noticed the hill to have a more gradual slope and decided to tackle the climb again. Reaching the top, we sat peering over the valley below.

The cozy cabin with a barn-red garage puffed smoke out its chimney. The remarkable aerial view was like flying overhead in a hang glider. I imagined the other women inside preparing a homemade brunch and how soon I would be joining them. I'd try my best to explain our climb through the bristle, but it wouldn't be the same as if they made the crawl themselves. One bit of advice would be certain, take the gradual way. This is the best way to go.

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