My self is a matrix, a jumble, of all that I have been talking about. In the same moment I am physical and emotional, intellectual and spiritual. I can never truly pin my life down to any one aspect or any one level of existence. How do I distinguish what to do or how to react in any situation?
Looking at how I climb a mountain I can piece together the matrix of how I evolve and develop moment by moment. Climbing mountains is something I love to do and it is something that stretches me on all levels. It takes skill, self-understanding and awareness of the context to be able to successfully achieve the peak, both of the mountain and of self-understanding.
Yesterday I went out walking with a group of enthusiasts to walk a circular ridge walk here in Spain. It was planned to be a 4 hour walk with a lot of climbing. The first hour was spent walking up the rambla—a dry river bed common in this part of Spain—at a cracking pace. At the top end we were due to start some serious climbing.
At that point I chose to go back down the rambla and go home. I had a great time walking back at my own pace. I enjoyed the surroundings and developed what I call a meditative walking pace.
I chose to go back primarily for physical reasons. My legs were complaining and the muscles were getting sore. I knew the route, having walked it last year, and I knew there was a significant amount of climbing still to come. If you have been reading all of these posts you will know that I am going through a significant change of lifestyle that I have yet to fully integrate. I have not yet fully built up my physical strength.
I understood my physical limitations and decided not to continue.
I had to find my courage to do that. I was with a group and was conscious of the potential for the group to judge me for dropping out. I rose above that and let my emotional reaction go.
I enjoy walking for the ability to be alone in nature and be alone with myself. This may seem like an anti-social reason for doing it but that is alright with me. I did not enjoy the push and the pace to achieve the result.
I decided not to continue.
On another occasion some years ago in another part of Spain I set out to climb Mulhacen, the highest peak in Spain. This time I set off alone excited by the prospect of topping Spain.
It was a tough climb that tested me physically. As I set the pace I was able to keep going and get close to the top. But I stopped before I reached the peak and turned back. This was a difficult decision to make and one that I had to make in relation to my own desire to continue.
Across the valley Urmila was sitting outside the Cortijo—a Spanish cottage— we were staying in, looking across at the mountain. She became concerned when she saw a deep black cloud settle around the top. She knew I was probably somewhere in the midst of it.
For me the black cloud manifested itself as a hailstorm that was sudden and fierce. I was not dressed for this type of weather and I did not have the equipment to brave it. I was so close to the top but decided it was not wise to continue, especially on my own.
I turned back.
I was aware of my own limitations and capabilities. I knew my intentions but was able to balance them against the reality of the situation.
In these situations it easy to blind yourself to your desire or intention but awareness, true awareness, can help you see beyond that.
- Are you aware of your full potential?
- Are you aware of your limitations?
- Are you able to balance the two?