Climb to Truth. ~ Judyth Hill

Via elephant journal
on Jul 14, 2011
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Photo: Judyth Hill

Stuck? Come Un-Glued.

If you come to a fork in the road…take it. ~ Yogi Berra

Ever wonder about those gluey, stuck places inside our lives—Inside our writing practice and our Yoga practices? Those days we just can’t get ourselves to the mat, though we know we adore it when we get there?

And, those days, maybe weeks, when we don’t open our journal? Those days when (so mostly serene and certainly well-meaning, so nearly on the path) we lean on the horn in traffic, and dang, it kind of feels good too just lose it?

I’ll never forget the day my baby girl climbed in the car on the way to pre-school, honked merrily away, and turning to me, said, Isn’t this what we do when we see an asshole, Mama? Ahh, the reality check, don’t you just hate when it’s your turn to pick it up?

Times when we rant and rave at our sweethearts, for… what was it again? When we say, “Yes”, wishing we could say, “Could never work for you?” Where’s that cosmic refresh button on our keyboard! It’s got to be somewhere.

Where does our authentic Self go when it slips away and can’t be found so, next best thing, we stand in the kitchen, spoon in hand, raiding the freezer for creamy tubs of something, anything, involving dairy and chocolate?

Actually my thing is bread, rye bread, well-toasted, actually a bit burnt, with loads of sweet butter, a sprinkle of salt and thick slices of sharp, sharp cheddar… but that’s another story.

Photo: Judyth Hill

Point is, I can absolutely get stuck in mood, in appetite; I can catch a serious case of the I-can’t-move, don’t-wanna, ain’t-gonna blues.

And, I can absolutely get stuck in my writing, or worse, my not-writing. Even though, like Dorothy, I have known my whole life, that there’s No Place Like Poem.

I started thinking about leaps, leaps of faith and leaps inside poems and what moves us from stuck. Which took me straight to risk, where stuck meets faith, and we take that leap. Oh, you knew this was coming, right?

I asked my son, Cassidy, about his process in rock climbing, the real-time, at-risk side of a rockface thing, his passion and practice, starting at the age of nine in the mountains of Northern New Mexico, with best friend, Max Schoen.

When they asked us to drive them to the Truchas trailhead, how did those boys even know they wanted to do such a thing? And, in January, yet? They just did—born to it! They even arranged to rent snow shoes in town.

So, when I turn many years later to ask Cassidy about his lifelong love, his Way in this world, I am definitely going to a higher authority.

When we are writing, we can get stuck in, and caught by, the subtle and seductive grooves of our own process. That voice we writers work so hard to discover and develop, and now is, well, ho-hummmm, and we get been-there-wrote-that about ourselves.

Our Yoga becomes: Stretch, Pose, Breathe, Check the mirror, Listen to the, yawn, Dharma Wisdom. Or, our relationships get, “Gee, nice, Honey, but I ‘d rather watch the movie…”

We know we need to see and say, and do, the original and not-yet-realized. But, how? Ah, the mystery inherent in the creative act! How do we move, and make that change that must be made? How do we get to I? Knowing that we need to, must… go?

Cassidy and his wild fellows clinging to the mysterious faces of mountains, traversable only by direct, perseverant respect and grace, offer, with their practiced strength, agility and rock wisdom, a glimpse of a Way.  They know steep, and stopped, in their bones!

I asked him what happens at that exact moment of halt, that nexus point of decision: looking upward, sideways, back down, to find the next step, the next, maybe smallest (though not always!) possible move. I knew there was a huge clue for us, inside this. So, imagine yourself, side of a rockface, stuck!

Photo: Judyth Hill

Firstly, our most important resource is becoming utterly present, right there, right then, in the stuck-ness.  And then, we ask: how could change, any change, take place?

The answer: Shift our weight! This frees something: a hand, a foot, a finger, a knee, a wedged hip. And, our thinking! And, this automatically gives us a set of different choices! So: Shift!

Whatever we have freed from cling and claw and stuck, can reach out, up, over, down. Options have opened, and we can move in a direction that has become newly available.

How, might you ask, does this translate to writing, to our Yoga practice and to our lives?

By seeing that our stuck-ness, that moment when we are caught, hung up by our old way of writing, or practicing, or living, or our resisting, is a product of our clinging, our investment in staying where we are.

We are leaning all our weight there.  And, our stuck-ness feels almost as if it was a kind of safety.

Interesting. On a rockface, it might mean you won’t fall, but you won’t be going anywhere either! So, move off of what you are clinging to. In Yoga, take your attention to the ordinary, the tiny. Take yourself where you have never been—the palms of your hands, the soles of your feet, your inner elbows.

In writing, in relationship, drop the point you are trying so hard to make, and say that thing you didn’t know you could say.

Reach: Caught between two words, two sets of old choices? A duality, a polarity, is an arrested moment in the poems’, or anything’s, journey towards itself.  Find a third option— Surprise—and take that! Reach!

Then, astonishing and heartbreakingly gorgeous: what then, do you think, we do? Yes, of course, at each point, breathe is a good answer, but here, what is deeply asked from us brave wild ones is:

Commit: Extraordinary! It’s so obvious! Of course! Whatever we have chosen, Commit! 100%!

Shine: Throw your heart into what your body-mind, or your mind-body has chosen.  Say Yes, and give yourself to this. Stay there and shine! Shine There! Right there: Write there!

Trust: You didn’t come all this way to waffle about, to either-or it. Summon from the core of deep self, what gets us up any mountain, through any rapids running, gets us back to the mat,  to the embrace of our Beloved, into the truth of saying, and the unknowable next  thing. Trust!

Photo: Judyth Hill

The first Card of Tarot, the Fool, shows him poised at the crest of a high ridge, head thrown cheerily back, chin up, a small bundle of belongings in one hand, a full blown rose in the other.

What does the Holy Fool bring so wisely to the beginning of any adventure? The sine qua non for any and each of us that has ever stood with out heart on our sleeve, ready for what we do not yet know: a possibility we create by connecting our longing to our willingness to shift, reach, commit, trust.

This brings into reality that which did not exist until the moment we made ourselves available for the arrival of the miraculous: the wholly new. Shift, Reach, Commit, Trust.

A secret known to us beauty-makers, us fools of love. For how else can it ever be, in Poems, in our Practice, in our wild wild, lives?


Judyth Hill is a poet, teacher, author, living wildly as ever, on her agave and bougainvillea bejeweled ranchito, Simple Choice Farm, in a lush valley just outside San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She has authored 6 poetry collections, a cookbook, innumerable magazine articles, the internationally acclaimed poem, Wage Peace and –woweee!—leads WildWriting Culinary adventures ‘round the world!!!


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10 Responses to “Climb to Truth. ~ Judyth Hill”

  1. Thanks to Judyth Hill, I now have discovered Elephant Journal. Great piece on writing, Judyth! I've used your advise concerning the third choice many times as I have used most everything you taught me. Blessings to you on your new venture of writing and good food. Love, Linda

  2. tanya lee markul says:

    Thank you, Judyth!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  3. Mindy Rose says:

    There are no words for what your words today have done for my life. You have given me the answer …
    and my exhausting search is now over. I can't thank you enough…

  4. yogiclarebear says:

    This is a truly amazing work of analogy and metaphor. Very inspiring Judyth!

  5. athayoganusasanam says:

    beautiful! a lovely, multi-dimensional metaphorical exploration. thank you for sharing.

  6. tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  7. Reach, commit, shine, trust… Judyth, thanks for the wisdom, inspiration and a great read!

  8. Carolyn Elam says:

    This came to me on the very day I needed to read it. Thanks.

  9. […] recently gotten back into climbing after a long hiatus, my friend Mike had offered to take me on my first multi-pitch climb up the […]

  10. lois read says:

    Judyth, even though I may not know where you are sending me, I will head off in whatever direction you point out for me. I won't climb rocks like Cassidy (too old, and just plain chicken) but I'm game to go with you, to fairy land, to Umbria, wherever. Lois R