Posts Tagged 'yosemite'

Peace

Peace is unmistakable.

Sometimes it sneaks up on me.

I stood alone in the parking lot of the small hotel I slept in on the banks of the Merced River just outside Yosemite National Park, reflecting on the journey I’d made over four days. Pacing around under what could be seen of the stars, I smoked an Arturo Fuente Gran Reserva–a celebratory cigar to mark crossing over into my new home state.

A lot is on my mind–always.

The hunk of tissue between my ears can be a real curse, often poring over questions for hours (or days) in search of answers.  I’m rarely able to shut it off unless a solution arrives.

I sat for a minute on the curb and pulled some smoke into my mouth, then blew it at the streetlight hanging off to my left. The whispy cloud floated away like an octopus’ ghost into the ocean of night sky, eerily pulsing its tentacles against the still air.

Then, I started confessing.

I rolled through thirty years’ worth of sins of omission, talking about why I’d been afraid to say anything and too proud to ask for help. I admitted to what I don’t understand, even though I want to. I shared everything I could think of with God, particularly a long-quiet ache to be better for Him.

I don’t know how I can. I’m sure I’ll need help–with the amount growing every day–and it’s all I’m asking for right now. I’m clumsy and I’ll fall down more times than I care to count, I just want to squeeze the very best I have to offer into this life.

Finally, one thing came to mind:

“I am uncertain but unafraid.”

The silence in my head was jarring, like a stadium full of people hushed by the sight of an injured player.

I have no idea what’s coming next and, for the first time in my life, I’m accepting that. The feeling is unfamiliar, almost as though I’ve put on a new pair of shoes.

I’m uncomfortable.

Let’s hope I can stay calm.

Viewpoint

Viewpoint is forever changing.

I hiked along Yosemite National Park’s Four Mile Trail and took in my surroundings while climbing to Glacier Point. The path winds from the valley floor some 3,000 feet into the sky and cuts through a stunning redwood forest near the top. To borrow from some fellow travelers whom I spoke with a few times during the three-hour trek to the observation post, “every view is like a postcard”.

Rising higher, each vista became clearer, less cluttered. The trees parted out of courtesy to my eyes, that I may receive every last photon from God’s gallery below me. As fatigue and diminished oxygen took hold, each thirty seconds of rest to snap a picture and appreciate the beauty became a worthy reward.

I had a hard time believing it could get better.

It did.

The whole way up.

The cliffs somehow jutted further out of the evergreen blanket below and became sharper against the blue backdrop, allowing the image to burn my retinas with a crisp clarity and unassuming glory. I stepped out onto ledges as far as I could, hoping I might somehow become closer to the scene and experience it more. I huffed and puffed through a wide smile, enjoying the stillness of Heaven’s front porch.

When you’re in the face of something–or it’s in yours–it’s difficult to see how anything can improve.

The idea of what’s behind you–lower points you’ve passed through–is too fresh, too present to be discarded. Imagination, suspended by a mind preoccupied with recent experience, is unable to guess what good might be around the next turn.

Sometimes you just have to keep walking until you see it.

Time

Time is the measure of all things.

Yosemite Valley is a stark reminder of what came before you and will outlast you. Trees stretch a hundred feet above your head, looking on silently as you buzz past its trunk.

Regardless of what you do, the whole system carries on.

There is a quiet peace: things grow, things die. The system is indifferent to what survives and what perishes as long as each job is filled. The surroundings respond only to your action.

What matters is what you do.

Humans pass lives without making much of them, skipping the important stuff in favor of what is within reach. Like redwoods pushing into the sky in search of sunshine, we have to shed what would hold us back so we can continue to grow.

Make a decision or limit your future.

Persistence

Persistence moves mountains.

Walking around Yosemite Valley, one grasps the power of consistency. Throughout the park, water moves along with quiet insistence on having its way. Snowmelt becomes the streams and waterfalls shaping future magnificence with tiny, constant force.

Pushing on is a requirement to create a masterpiece.

Battles are won by inches over miles, both within and without.

It’s not easy.

I struggle with it all the time.

It took me more than two years–and more heartache than I care to mention–to engineer a move into new surroundings.

I’ve toiled.

I’ve cried.

I’ve shaken my fists at the sky.

My heart was relentless when my brain was fed up.

I just knew.

The smallest details intrigue me. I welcome the kiss of a cool ocean breeze and stare with gratitude at the trees stretching into the sky above.

Along challenging roads and through desperate hours, I have dreamed of a time I would call this place home.

I strained.

I pushed.

I clawed the ground with my fingernails.

I can’t believe I made it so far.

Pressure

Pressure cuts to the core.

Over 500 million years, the Yosemite Valley has transformed from ocean floor to picturesque canyon in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Billions of tons of ice gashed the granite to produce stunning beauty.

Challenges compress us.

Moment to moment, in large and small ways, life turns the screws. Situations apply force, demand decisions, reveal character.

The heavy load strips away the unnecessary, shaping–or, if you’re not careful, crushing–what lies below. We are defined by what is left behind, that which is strong enough to withstand the grinding power of all we face.

The world is shown only what is durable enough to resist the stress.

Facing long odds, we inevitably revert to long-formed habits until forced to change. When push comes to shove, only the most desperate times demand we act a certain way.

Some crack.

Others are galvanized.

Some choke.

Others rise to the occasion.

Be mindful of what you strengthen, it appears when the time comes.


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