The daily climb

We watched a great documentary the other night called, Blindsight, about a blind man who climbed Mt. Everest and then ended up going back to Tibet to help a blind woman (who started a school for blind children), take the children on a huge climb to the base of Everest. There were so many profound, uplifting and shocking moments in this short film but something that really struck me was how the blind are/were treated. The children were looked down on, and as they passed people in the streets, often they were called names and worse. It’s believed by many in that culture, that blindness signifies the person did something wrong in a past life, so no matter what they do now, it is never good enough.

I could not help but make the analogy to us and to how we treat ourselves, sometimes on an hourly basis. If we could really listen to our own internal dialog, it would sound like we had a cruel, uncaring, heartless dictator living inside ourselves; telling us constantly that we will never measure up, that we should be way further along than we are, that there is no hope (at this age) that we will overcome the situation that is troubling us. That we are losers. When I see someone outside myself, like these kids, being treated this way, it infuriates me. I think, “How could anyone do this to others?” and yet the internal critic is doing the same thing, night and day when I let it run amuck in my life.

I remember listening to a tape of a well-known spiritual teacher talking about his life; how he could run a marathon in 3 1/2 hrs (and by the way, he said that anyone should be able to run for 3 hrs at an 8 minute per mile pace), that he had a loving wife, and lived in a beautiful home and even with tough early years, he never had money issues. I guess this was supposed to be uplifting but it wasn’t, not for me. He seemed to be saying that if you are living “right” then you will have a perfect body, work, money and love and by implication, if you have debt, or no relationship, or an illness, that you were not “spiritually on-track”; that you were doing something wrong.

None of us really understands this human experience of life. But what I love more than anything, is not hearing of a life that never had a glitch, but of how someone changed, grew, helped others, and became a bigger person precisely because of the limitation. We are all, in a sense, climbing a huge mountain blindly; holding a hand out to the one behind us, and the one in front. Listening for the sound of the bells, feeling our way along, though we see  (at best), only partly, and at times, not at all.

Today, let’s try to be kind to ourselves. Let’s tell ourselves how well we are doing. Let’s try looking for the good in ourselves and in our lives, just as they are. Just for today.

“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life.  But there was always some obstacle in the way.  Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid.  Then life would begin.  At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.”  Fr. Alfred D’Souza

ALSO: The winner of the skin balm is Mary Solomon!

23 thoughts on “The daily climb

  1. Goodness gracious, Fr. d’Souza’s quote makes me think of housework vs knitting. Think I will just leave the dirty dishes right where they are and pick up my needles, so many ideas whirling around in my head this morning.

  2. Mary, I love the image of reaching out a hand to the person behind us, as we reach for the person ahead of us, Beautiful! It reminds me, sadly, of the time when a school in Russia was taken hostage and among many images, we saw lines of little children holding the hand of a child ahead and a hand of the child behind as they were rushed to safety. Connectedness! Powerful stuff! This reaching out to help and allowing ourselves to receive humbles me and helps me be aware of the power of being connected to each other. Giving and receiving.
    Your posts do a superb job of helping us become connected to each other.Giving and receiving.
    Thank you,
    Love from Fran

  3. Mary, just last night I made a decision to try something today on my day off that I’ve wanted to do for the past 2 or 3 years, which is to start writing. Everyday I have thought about it but my automatic thoughts start and I think to myself…that’s going to be too hard, it’s going to take forever to complete even if I get it started and I could never write as good as the writers I love etc. the thoughts go on in quick succession and within seconds I give up again before I even get started. This has been going on WITHIN my own mind for so long thats it’s become a mental habit. Over the last few days I’ve realized that these are just excuses, plain and simple. Then I read your post today and it so perfectly applies to me that I can’t believe it! I would never say the harsh, negative things to my friends or my kids if they had a dream and wanted to try it so why am I saying all that awful stuff to myself? I’m taking your advice Mary and I’m saying nice, encouraging things to myself today. Can’t wait to see how the day is different! Great post!

  4. There is a mountain in the west. I have wanted to climb this mountain for almost all my life. One year when I was having a particularly bad time, my brother said to me, “Perhaps that mountain is not the one you are supposed to climb. Perhaps life is your mountain, and each day when you arise and take a step and then another….why, then you are truly climbing your mountain”. Over the years, I have seen the wisdom of this manifested again and again..and wouldn’t you know ….. helping hands have appeared around each bend of the trail. And to Shelagh…..get those needles out girl and start knititing!

  5. I think of this site as a helping hand to try to clear the unwanted thoughts in my head which is constantly taking place. I can picture in my mind all the hands reaching for each other from the gathering of the flock. Keep writing Renee and congratulation Mary S for being the winner of the amazing balm.

  6. What a beautiful post, Mary.

    Your blog and your readers’ comments are like a bowl of my favorite ice cream for breakfast.

    Uh-oh, I feel a trip to the store for Breyer’s Vanilla Bean coming on! 🙂

    Happy day, all.

  7. Such a good reminder to love ourselves first and then reach outward to others. Love today’s quote, life just keeps happening!

  8. I hope this isn’t too long to copy/paste. It is from today’s Daily Om. Recently on my desert walks, I have started my own little stone offering under a humble palo verde tree that has a squat little barrel cactus nearby; for all the world the cactus looks like a short fat little Buddha. I love the idea of placing a stone when I pass by, with an intention or prayer. Today it will be placed to remind myself to be kind, starting with myself. And I will envision all of the flock doing the same. After all, you can’t offer someone a cup of tea if you don’t fill your own teapot first, right? Love to all.

    January 24, 2012
    Intention Set in Stone
    Prayer Stone Stacks

    Add a stone blessed with a prayer to a mound and your intentions merge with those who have left stones before you.

    Stone has played a role in spirituality from the very moment humanity externalized its sacred vision. Humans gave form to their devotion by scratching images of their deities into rock faces, carving holy statuary, and building stone shrines. The earliest of these were nothing more than simple piles of rocks that honored sacred places, revelations, people, and events. Following in the footsteps of this ancient tradition provides us with an simple and beautiful way to externalize our own spirituality. In your travels, you may have encountered on the sides of roads, trails, or pathways stacks of stones that look like random sculpture. Add a stone blessed with a prayer to such a mound, and your intentions merge with those who have left stones before you, empowering you all.

    Associating a prayer with a particular stone alters the substance of both, and the formation of a prayer mound can balance and intensify the energy of a site. The mere act of choosing a stone can inspire mindfulness, as we lose ourselves in the moment seeking a pebble that speaks to our souls. And placing a prayer stone on a towering cairn is a meditation in patience—slowness and stillness allow us to find our stone’s center of gravity so the delicate ceremonial structure before us remains intact. Be cautious, however, when you feel guided to place a prayer rock upon stone mounds you see intermittently alongside well-worn but unmarked hiking paths. Hikers often use small cairns as guide markers to ensure that those who follow in their footsteps will not lose the trail. When in doubt, begin a new prayer pile slightly further away from the path itself and consider adding a relic of some kind to help others understand its purpose.

    When you mindfully place a prayer by beginning a stone heap or adding to an existing mound, your thoughts and intentions are left in the care of fate itself. The cairn of which your prayer was one part may be unintentionally knocked down or destroyed by Mother Nature’s own hand. Try not to let this weigh heavily upon your spirit. The potent energy of your prayer was released by this destruction, ensuring that the purpose underlying that prayer will spread outward in the direction of the furthest reaches of the universe.

    • Hi Susan! I love this and thanks so much for sharing it. If you have a moment, and are game, you might want to sign on to this blog: To manage your expectations, it is not a spiritual blog but a craft/art/decorating blog from Australia. Scroll down to her 12/27/2011 entry, “The in between time”. The picture is beautiful and just made me think of your Intention Set in Stone and Prayer Stone Stacks…I think the picture alone is worth the time! I’m printing the picture and your comments and Mary’s post for my very special folder…thank you!

      • Thank you Barbara, Kelly (how is Skeeter? I think of him all the time!) and Kathye, – wow, coming here at night before bed is definitely the icing on the cake to read the comments from early morning and on. Kathye, I did check out the 12/27 posting and loved the picture! and also the beautiful song in the background and the whole feel of the blog made me think once again, what treasures we find and share with each other here at Mary’s White Feather Farm! Thank you so much. Today, I found a beautiful foundation stone for my little altar area under a tree in the middle of the desert. Have to be careful, where I live!, picking up any stone, as critters such as scorpions may be hunkering underneath! But not to worry, the one I chose was in the shape of a triangle, so I laid it pointing to the cactus that looks like a little Buddha. It is lovely to think of walking by in days to come and knowing it is my special little place, but to any other eye, it won’t even be noticed.

  9. Mary
    I am hoping you are gathering all your writing (or new writing) into a book soon.
    I visualize you signing your books at Battenkill and other fine bookstores and being an amazing speaker. I hope this will be one of your next exciting phases in your life.
    You express yourself so eloquently. Every element in your blog post just flows together so smoothly. I know my old high school College Prep English teacher wpuld have given you an A on each post!
    I will take time to look at the documentary today. How shocking to hear how they treat the blind, yet it is part of their culture.
    Then again…no one should should follow culture or religious practices blindly. There is a reason God gave us intelligence and free will, and it was not at all bad that we were thrown out of the Garden of Eden in this respect.

    • P.S.
      With respect to my old College Prep Teacher.
      “wpuld” !
      “would” is more like it!
      Oh, well…Not like this is a college term paper.
      But …forgive me spirit of my old teacher!
      Then again, I know she would just be laughing anyhow.

  10. I’m so glad that you brought up the veiled “blame the victim” that emerges from some spiritual teachers. As if suffering and struggling aren’t enough, some would have us believe that we are the cause of our own difficulties, always. Given the ease with which we slip into self criticism, this is just more fuel for the fire. Certainly we must take responsibility for actions that result in hardship, but we also must allow for Life to unfold and guide and teach. I always emerge stronger from crisis, once the dust settles…..and sometimes it takes a long time for the dust to settle! Sometimes there is a new insight and sometimes there is simply the act of letting go.

  11. Excited to receive my balm. How wonderful to be the winner of a tangible item – feel like I’m a winner just being with all of you. Really made my day!

    In regards to today’s posting – Something to counteract the internal critic……..could be said about self or other…….

    Part of my reading last night consisted of the following:

    You are or I am:

    as you are at this moment, with your faults;

    of coping with life’s difficulties and discomforts

    — your positive acts contribute to the world.

  12. Mary, I also love the analogy of climbing a mountain and Manchester Mary, I love what your brother had to say about your particular mountain. I’ve often referred to it as the pathway through life. Lending a helping hand is about all we can do for those walking the path behind us. But about having a perfect life made me think of a childhood friend whose life, she recounted, was always perfect. By the time I’d get off the phone talking with her, I felt that I needed to take an insulin shot for her verbal diabetes. As a result, I used to pull the old lemon trick and my humour became stringent. I used to get annoyed with her and with myself, I didn’t have to react that way but darned if I didn’t do it everytime I listened to her saccarined account of her life versus mine, which has had a few major bumps along the way. Her husband, also a lifelong friend, died of cancer two years ago and I now see her adrift emotionally and without an anchor to hold it in place. This, you see, was the unspoken job of her husband. She has no real centre. Not at the moment, anyway. It may happen. Meanwhile, I try to keep my beak taped and my lemons where they belong…in my frig instead of on my tongue.

    SandyP in Canada (and congrats to Nary’s skin balm winner).

  13. Wonderful post! I, myself, have been going through a time of struggle and change over the past several months . When I read this, I thought, “how true.” It is sometimes much easier for us to point out the “negative” in ourselves, rather than focusing on the good and positive things that we are trying to accomplish. None of us are perfect, that’s for sure. And I have found that reaching out for support and help from others is really a strength, not a weakness. I have been amazed how much help there is, when you open your heart and mind to it.
    Although it is sometimes so painful and difficult to take the “first step” to overcome or tackle a problem, with each passing day, a new strength does emerge.
    Thank you so much for your posts!

    • Thank you Jackie…I too have come to see that it is really a wonderful part of being human that we need each other. Sending you good thoughts on your journey

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