It’s funny how much one learns from growing up around mountains.
Unless we climb them, we’ll always wonder how long it takes, what it looks like from the top, and whether or not we can actually do it. I’ve felt my heart both soar and drop during trips in the Tetons, the Salmon-Challis area, and various other mountains I’ve felt an inkling to walk or ski in, around, up, or on top of.
And the same goes for the way we treat each other during stressful holiday times, and year ’round, for that matter! We never really know how we treat others unless we are self-instrospective about it.
From Rilke’s “Memory”:
“And then all at once you know: that was it.
You rise, and there stands before you
the fear and prayer and shape
of a vanished year.”
And the truth is that we will receive only as much as we give. People will love us only as much as you we love them—or let their love in.
We will accomplish only as much as we set time aside for. We will only become more in shape if we sweat more. We will only experience more comfort if we experience more pain. We will only experience a better life situation if we make intelligent and skillful decisions apropos the way to make it happen.
We will only fall in love if we choose to do so.
Our families will show us love if we let them. Our pets will only cooperate if we love them. We will think more of society if we put more energy into bettering it.
We can even make Folger’s coffee taste delicious in the morning if we make it hot enough and we drink it with the intention of enjoying it.
We can make the meanest, grumpiest people smile if we try hard enough.
We can only climb upward if our feet are steady enough to stand still.
So, I am proposing a new approach to the holidays, the New Year, and life in general:
Don’t make resolutions. Don’t make drastic changes; those cause avalanches and landslides. Make tiny movements, tiny steps…gradual changes toward a lifestyle.
Good things take time, and no mountain is unclimbable. We just have to choose the right steps, the right pathway. And sometimes the right pathway is not the shortest one. The things that are important along the way: love, balance, non-attachment, non-ego, perseverance, learning, goal-making, giving, compassion, cultivating bodhiccitta (whatever religion you belong to), being healthy, working, yoga, doing everything as skillfully as possible, making intention and sharing.
Remember, this isn’t about ego. It’s not a singular journey…not your journey. Share the pathway.
And I promise that at the end, you will look down at what you have accomplished, and you will be able to hold hands with those you have also lifted up and you will scream at the top of your lungs, “I did it! We did it!”
Enjoy your holidays and the people in your life. Drop the stress. Enjoy the essence of Hanukkah, Christmas, and the New Year. And you will be happy.
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Editor: Cat Beekmans
Photo of the Tetons courtesy of the author