Everything can look like a mountain when you pile up whatever you think the future holds and make it into a big task. I know because I’ve done it. Here’s a simple example: “I would like to experience this but it is going to be way too long and tedious to get myself there.” When we make the journey into a big task and the destination as this far-away prize that determines whether or not the journey is worth it, life loses its spontaneity and magic.
I used to turn down simple opportunities to experience something because I would think: “If I do this then I’ll have to do that, and this or that may feel uncomfortable, and do I want to go through this other step etc.” But when you stop piling up the made up “things that could or could not happen” in your head and instead just go for the ride one step at a time without over-analyzing it many times over in your mind, all there is left is an openness to experience what life has to offer.
The same applies to when we do everything we can to achieve a goal without paying attention to the journey. We may have decided to take on the “mountain,” but are we paying attention to the moment we are in? Are we enjoying where we are and noticing the beauty and insights that this moment has for us, or are we solely focusing on a grand-prize?
One of the key lessons I have learned this summer is that life is a series of steps, but the only step that truly matters is the one you are in right now. The very act of piling up a mountain of steps is an illusion, because it implies that you think you “know” what the next steps could look like and therefore you create a daunting picture of the mountain you need to climb before you can get “somewhere.” But when you realize that all there is to it is one step, and then an another and then another – that you make up as you go along, not only will you never again miss out on what the moment has to offer, but you will also realize that life isn’t as serious as you thought when you were busy projecting a future.
Steps aren’t meant to be perceived as tasks or as a means to an end, but as enriching experiences that lead you to other enriching experiences. Let’s begin not only thinking of life as a series of experiences, but FEELING it as so. Are you experiencing life? Are you tasting it, breathing it and taking in all that it has to offer? Are you learning something? Or are you solely thinking yourself through life?
It doesn’t mean you have to sign up for every ride life has to offer and try not to miss out on anything, it just means you won’t be putting so much judgment and mental straining into every choice. Instead you will be using your intuition and child-like curiosity. Life is meant to be an adventure, that’s why we are here. There is no such thing as a good step or a bad step or too many steps, there is only this moment, and whatever we choose to create with it!
Oh and let’s not forget… if you’re no longer resonating with a particular choice, big whoop! Just choose again. We’re always freer than we think. 😉
“‘There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, ‘If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen?’ The Master thought about this, then replied, ‘Ten years.’ The student then said, ‘But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast – How long then?’ Replied the Master, ‘Well, twenty years.’ ‘But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?’ asked the student. ‘Thirty years,’ replied the Master. ‘But, I do not understand,’ said the disappointed student. ‘At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?’ Replied the Master, ‘When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.'” – Excerpt from a speech by Erica Goldson
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