Earlier this month, I spent 5 days hiking and backpacking in Yosemite. My first visit filled me with wonder and awe at the splendor that is Yosemite. Everything seems oversized—the rocks, the trees, the speed of the water flowing through the valley. Words—at least mine—could not begin to describe what a glorious place this is and pictures, I discovered, are inadequate. Being in the valley taught me just how small I am in this universe.
I often forget this.
I think I am terribly important and my ideas and thoughts are terribly significant. But when I looked up at Half Dome or El Capitan and took in the size of these monoliths, I came to a different awareness. My life is short and in the grand scheme of things, relatively unimportant. Not that I don’t have value—I do. But I need to keep that value in perspective.
Our first hike was a 9 mile round trip to the top of Nevada Falls. The trail is mostly steps carved from rock on the way up. And, of course, what you go up, you must come down. It was beyond rigorous and my shins were hurting so badly on the way down, that I resorted to walking backwards down the trail. Was it worth it? Every step.
I’ve hiked before but this was the first time that I really couldn’t tell where the trail was going. Or maybe I was just more aware this time of how much I didn’t know. I learned that it is only necessary to see a few feet in front of my feet. I didn’t need to see the whole trail; I just had to stay on the trail that was right in front of me. Yes, the trail twisted and turned beyond my sight. But I wasn’t there yet so didn’t have to worry about what it did “up there.”
And this hike, as I said, was very rigorous. Sometimes I wondered if we were going to make it to the top. Sometimes the trail seemed to go away from our goal. And for most of the time, the top seemed to be right! there and yet, here was another switchback and another flight of steps. I came to the place where all I was doing was the next step. And the next step. And the next step. I stopped projecting myself to the top and tried to be where I was. One more step.
May is Mental Health Awareness month. I go hiking and backpacking for my mental health. And this time I got the bonus of learning not to take myself too seriously and that being here and now while taking the next right step is all that is required. So good for my sanity.
May you experience the joy and presence of being you in this moment today.
PS: Try out my new Lolly Butter scent: Summertime Salve. Available starting June 1st! It has eucalyptus and lemongrass oil and is great for keeping bugs at bay. (Something else that promotes sanity.)