Mindfulness on the Mountain

I’ve been practicing something. Something new. Well, something quite ancient, and indeed something I’ve been working at for some time, but it always feels new when faced with an unfamiliar situation, mountain or molehill.

I’ve had hormone, uh, hiccups. Muddles, hitches, gremlins, misadventures. Yes, let’s go with misadventures. And since nothing from the outside world has worked, I’ve had to resort to the powers of reasoning. To myself. To mindfulness.

I’ve had times on the mountain when just about anything can set me off.

Slips and falls on inclines, declines and flat surfaces, my leggings rubbing up against raw wounds with each step, hayfever, before-sunrise-no-caffeine starts, knyping when little girls rooms can’t be found (and too many people are around), bonking (the bad kind… when moving forward is a fierce impossibility), forgetting the camera SD card at home, forgetting to charge the GoPro battery, the sun, the blue sky, the grey sky, the wind, the stillness, the pace of hiking partner, the sound of hiking partner, the lack of sound from hiking partner.

But there’s a moment, a space, a field… a bit like that in the quote by Rumi:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.

There’s that moment, where we don’t have to react or judge. We can just be, we can return to the truth. And even beyond that, and here’s the rub, here’s the moment, here’s what the world needs more of, here is what needs practicing… we can turn to humour.

We can choose to the see the light side, the absurdity, the irony.

We can lie down on that grass and remember that we love hiking partner and only want hiking partner to be happy, just as we wish to be happy.

We can remember how fortunate we are to be able to see the sky, blue or grey, to hear the lightning, to have legs to scrape and whack, to carry us up mountains, or to have coffee to miss.

We can see the opportunities, how being without a camera frees us up to take it all in, to carry less and run faster.

I’ve been practicing this, when I feel snappier or slower (read: more torpid or lifeless) than usual. I’ve been reminding myself I have a choice of how to see it, how to feel, how to react. And I choose joy, I choose levity, I choose beauty.

Of course, putting that plan into action can sometimes take a more delayed and winding course, but get there I do. And every hike has been better for it. The practice of mindfulness on the mountain makes an adventure of the misadventures.

And if you can’t find the humour yet, keep searching. In the words of Robin Williams, a man who knew well the ability of wit to lift the spirits, “Anything that is not funny, at a certain point, will be funny.”

And here are other things Robin said that might help you see the humour, and sometimes just the truth, in life:

“[Mentor Jonathan Winters] taught me that the world is open for play, that everything and everybody is mockable in a wonderful way.”

“If women ran the world we wouldn’t have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.”

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

“What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.”

“Comedy is acting out optimism.”

“You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to.”

“Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star steaks through the darkness, turning night into day…make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular.”

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