Slowing down, taking stock, and finding gratitude

Sometimes life requires a little perspective.

Sometimes life requires a little perspective.

I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, but for most of us, it does: Do you ever think about how lucky you really are?

I’m not talking about “Whew, that was a close one!” Or that time when you got your mug photographed after winning a four-figure payday at the casino.

This is more of a life thing. Maybe the word I’m looking for is “fortunate” or “blessed.” Here’s what got me thinking about that…

The other day, I was out on the trail doing a short but hilly run. I was halfway through and staring down the remainder of the route, which included a quarter-mile downhill into a ravine, followed by a mile-long hill climb. It was the crux of the run and would be a nice little test.

About 10 minutes later, I stood atop the hill. Breathing hard, feeling a steady south breeze and the rays of a setting sun on my face. At that time, I considered my good fortune.

I’ve got a healthy set of lungs and a strong pair of legs. A place to use them. The time to drive out there and spend time bombing downhill, high-knee up, dodge rocks and roots and enjoy some fresh air.

That’s a blessing, folks. Think about all the people you know who are too ill to run. Or folks who are so pressed for money that they’re working double-shifts or two jobs just to stay afloat.

Another scene: After five hours of toil and 4,500 feet of elevation gain, I found myself standing atop a 14,000-foot summit. I was alone on this one, feeling a little cold and drained. But the views. Oh, man, the views.

This was on a Monday. Most of you were at least a couple of hours into your work day, the nasty first work day of the week, probably stuck in some meeting or getting caught up on all kinds of paperwork or supervisors’ directives. You were being bombarded by emails and social media messages. Electronically speaking, you were probably being inundated by a tsunami of game requests, scripture quotations, cat videos, political memes and links to stories about how Obamacare is going to ruin the country or how the tea party is going to ruin the country.

I knew/saw/heard not one bit of it.

All I saw were clouds swirling over mountaintops. Ravens riding air currents. Small, fuzzy creatures darting between piles of talus and scree.

The sounds? The wind. Bird calls and pika squeaks echoing through the basin. And there were no emails, texts or social media messages to be had. I brought my phone with me, but only for photos. It had been on “airplane mode” since the night before.

To have the time and freedom to go to that place at that time provided a blessing of solace and quiet that is hard to quantify. How do I put a price on being shielded from the electronic bombardment that happens to me almost every day?

I made a short video on that summit, doing a slow pano with a little bit of narration. I paused as I looked back down from where I’d come from. From there I could see down into the rocky talus, into fields of tundra, then willow-covered slopes, and finally into the forest. Groves of aspens many miles away began to show golden hues of fall. All I could say was, “Glory be to God!”

A couple of days later I posted a photo online of that summit view, saying, “My view from the office.” A college friend responded, “I want your job!”

Ah, if only it was indeed my job to be hopping from summit to summit. But at the same time, the underlying message was pretty clear: When compared to what nearly everyone else was doing that day, I was in an enviable position.

Of course, I knew it. I felt it. That warm-inside feeling, that weary but wide grin on my face, the realization that I was, for that moment in time, blessed beyond all measure.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

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