A family member recently pointed out to me that I have a tendency to be impatient. Not all the time, but in waves, my impatience rolls in, causing anxiety and discomfort in the present moment. I can be short with people. I can be hard on myself, expecting results fast and my future to arrive now. When my impatience takes over, so does the mindset that my life isn't good enough as it is in the present moment:
"Once I'm over there, I'll be happy."
"Once I've accomplished this, I'll be able to relax."
I thrive on goals and visions of my life, but sometimes I get so caught up by the end result that I forget to reel myself back in and flow with time. A river doesn't travel in a direct line, and similarly, life doesn't launch forward in a smooth, direct path to our goals either. There are inevitable bends and turns. There are rocky parts, rapids, cold spots, and mucky shores, but there are also delightful surprises along the way. I am learning to see the present moment for both the challenges and the gifts. I am learning to set my intention for the future, and then as Bill Donaldson (founder of the nonprofit Love Has a Home, Inc.) beautifully said, "Surrender to the Universe and kayak without a paddle."
But, let's be honest, there are times when the river of life is so uncomfortable, it's nearly impossible to relax. Switching nature-based metaphors here, when I was at the top of Cadillac Mountain in Maine, I felt this inescapable type of discomfort. I arrived at about 6:20 a. m. to experience the sunrise, where it first hits the United States, and excitedly rushed through the crowd to grab a good seat. By 6:29 a. m., I was near the front, seated and ready on the rocky ledge for the sun to rise at 6:58 a. m., but then the wind picked up. The rock's cold surface beneath me started to seep through my leggings and penetrate my skin. I looked at the clock: 6:33 a. m. I shivered. I didn't know if I was going to make it to sunrise.
I considered walking back to my car to warm up for a bit, but I knew I'd risk losing my spot. The icy morning wind swirled. I pulled my legs in. I linked my sleeves together. I tried to breathe into the discomfort and relax away the in-between time, but I couldn't deny the truth: I was freezing! Negative thoughts started to creep into my head:
"What was I thinking?"
"Is this even worth it?"
"What am I doing here?"
Time continued to tick away slowly, but I remained. I stood my ground, knowing that there was beauty yet to come. Through the darkness and wind, an orange halo started to bloom. The tone at the top of the mountain began to change as the whispers of cold slipped away and a silent awe took over. I stared out and smiled. The sun began to rise. All sensation and memories of negativity disappeared as the dawn of what I had set out to see became reality. I wasn't cold anymore. I wasn't regretful about getting up at 5 a. m. or the hour-long drive. I was grateful. And in a way, I was even more appreciative of the beauty in front of me because of the patience and pain it took to experience it.
Life doesn't happen in an instant. The loftiest of goals take more than a few easy steps to reach, but the view at the top is well worth the climb. The hard work and discomfort will pay off. You just have to be patient and willing to take the steps in between.