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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Stones in the Path.

"When the trail gets muddy, it is the stones in ones path which become the path."

We are living through times of great change. Many friends of mine lately are struggling with aspects of themselves which seem to be chronic and persistent. These things range from physical illness to life long issues which seem to keep arising. Challenges which present themselves over and over again. I have found that if I allow things to flow instead of attaching ones identity to those things, they disappear. Embrace them as part of your experience, they are part of your path taking you where you want to be; at times it is only a shift in perspective that we need.

Having spent several seasons hiking in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, I can tell you that after (or during) the rain or in seasons of snow-melt runoff, all those trails through the deeply forests mountains and lowlands become tiny streams. The whole area becomes saturated and moist. It becomes evident when in the forests of the raincoast, that the moisture which can be annoying, uncomfortable and at times an obstacle is also the very reason why it is so lush here. This water feeds and sustains everything. All of the fauna around one is water being held and used to increase life.

For a year I lived above 9,000 feet in the Indian Peaks Wilderness of Colorado. It was a beautiful place and my job at a mountain resort allowed me to be in some of the most pristine country around every day. I had the opportunity of walking out my tiny cabin door and walking straight into the forest. Even my walk to work took me on dirt roads through the forest. One day, while I was hiking one day below Longs Peak on the trails around Brainard Lake, I had a realization.

It was Spring time and the snow was begining to melt. At times, the trail would get so muddy that I had to switch over to stepping from stone to stone instead of the space between and around the stones which I usually thought of as the trail. It was a natural switch, this stepping out of the mud to dance upon the rocks. As I laughed to myself about what it was I was doing and how I had so easilly shifted my perception and that shift had made my way along the path so much easier. These stones in my path were no longer what I had previously thought they were. I had the realization that at times, it is the stones in ones path which are the way.

Later in my meditations on this aphorism, I began to draw other metaphors from it. Often the times the trails are muddy is when there is much water around. I already knew that the water was, of course feeding the life around me, however, what started to materialize was the process and how it related to my life. Often the wet times in nature come in the Spring, which is a time of great change. The trails are mudiest when life is the newest, shoots are poping from the ground, pushing up the rich humus, trees are begining to use the water as they once again start the process of using sunlight, elements and nutrients into sugar. I saw how this mirrored my life's muddy times. Usually when my life or path gets muddy, messy and difficult to navigate without slipping, it is a time when there is much change and new growth. Of course changes in life bring stress, even "good" change still has teh mud of stress mucking things up.

When things don't appear to be going as we feel they should, or have planned them out, our first response is often to be upset or fearful. The fact that we see obstacles, challenges and difficulties often translates as "things are not going as planned" or "things are not going well" or "I am failing." I have found, however, that these times of change are usually times where the old is leaving me and something new, something more to my liking is emerging or becoming manifest in my life. Over and over again in my life, it seemed to me that things were falling apart only to later realize that things were actually reassembling themselves into something better. Times of change or stress are times of transformation, of shape-shifting; form is changing to allow energy to flow more efficiently in service to life usually by facilitating growth or through the the creation of new life forms.

At times in my life I have encountered the same problems or issues over and over again. Often I have said to myself "Why is this happening again" when facing things which seem to be a recurring pattern in my life. Usually I found that eventually there was a lesson there which I needed to learn in order to progress. Time and time again though, I would see these recurring issues as problems, as obstacles and engage them in battle. I would not welcome them, but instead despise them and feel as though my life was not going the way I wanted it to. It was only after I finally learned the lesson that I could progress in my life and not run up against the same problems over and over. I had to shift my pespective, stop reacting and judging and see what was really happening.

I was fixated on the stones in my path, usuing all my energy on them. I was so focused on them that the issues were all I could see. I was failing to notice that I was still moving, growing;and change, you see, is a sign of life. Life is change. Living things grow, they have a circulation system, they change form, they take in nutrients and combine them into new forms; they build muscle or cell walls, they heal, they eliminate waste, they engage other life forms, they reproduce.

I have learned to see changes in life as growth, as an expansion of my life, an increase of experience, and so things which at first seem like obstacles or problems in the path become steps through times of change. Once I realized the true challenge was in the way I saw things I was able to welcome the many changes of form in my life, knowing that new things were forming or coming into existence. It was just like dancing on the rocks of the muddy trail, with a shift in perspective all obstacles vanished and all that remained was the path I was on going where I wanted to go.

"Change your thoughts, change your life."
~Wayne Dyer

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