Jack and I decided to go on one of our favorite hikes yesterday. It was supposed to be 75 degrees and sunny and we both wanted to be outside. We packed our treats; English breakfast tea for me, strong coffee for Jack, thinking how much we’d enjoy them at the summit.
As we got closer to the mountain (about 1 ½ hrs. north of here) we began to see a lot of snow still on the ground. By the time we reached the trailhead, I realized that I hadn’t dressed properly at all. I had worn only light running shoes and the trail was still covered with either snow and ice or mud and water.
We tentatively headed out with Luke happily running between us, splattering cold, muddy, water all over my bare legs (I’d also opted for shorts, not long pants) each time he came close to me.
We weren’t sure what to do. Almost everything was different than we’d expected and my mind was searching for direction: should be turn back? Should we try another trail? I suddenly said, “I am going to look at this hike as if it were an obstacle course with water, mud, and snow elements.” As soon as I had that thought something inside relaxed and it became an adventure.
We slowly made our way over icy rivers, deep muddy trenches, slippery leaves, melting ice mounds and patches of dry trail. Sometimes we slipped, sometimes we almost fell, one time Jack fell completely into a small creek when a mound of ice that he was walking on broke. It was in the 70’s so our upper bodies were warm enough but at that point, we’d only gone about a mile, and it had taken us an hour, so we decided not to continue up the mountain.
Before we reached our car we sat on a large rock that overlooked a still-frozen lake, drank our tea and coffee, and laughed about it all. It had been so much fun…after we allowed it to be what it was. After we suspended our idea of what we thought it should have been.
We’ve been reading a book to each other every night called, “No Mud, No Lotus” by Thich Nhat Hanh. As I sat there on the rock with Jack and Luke, that title made me smile. There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy myself if a day that I’d planned had not turned out as I had expected. I used to get angry and disappointed much quicker, and often I’d look for someone or something to blame, but that didn’t happen yesterday. At the start of the hike, I was silently asking for help on how to view the situation differently, and the idea was right there…all I had to do was say yes to it.
Yesterday felt like a gift not only because of the fun we had but also because it showed me how I’d changed…the “mud” of my past was very fertile soil. I no longer want to live in an agitated, angry, or disappointed state of mind. I want to trust life. I want to experience more than I expect.
“We don’t have to wait for the end of all suffering before we can be happy. Happiness is available to us right here and right now. But we may need to change our idea of happiness. Our idea of happiness may itself be the main obstacle keeping us from true happiness.” Page 56, No Mud, No Lotus