When The Path Looks Dark

Darkness is your candle.

~ Rumi

  There’s a very steep and ambitious incline that spans about 500 yards to the top of a mountain, leading to my safe house in the lush woods of Canada. Sometimes I hike for two or three hours in the forest and at the peak of my exhaustion I must tackle this unyielding hill with very fatigued muscles. At times this feels mentally and physically daunting, but I  conquer the challenge huffing and puffing the whole way, fantasizing about a fresh glass of well water at the top.

  One night, after a very adventurous day filled with tremendous exercise, I found myself at the base of this hard-won hill once again, only this time it was pitch black out. There are no street lights in the woods, no houses around, not a glimmer of light anywhere on this overcast new moon eve. It was so dark in fact, I couldn’t even be sure I was walking in the right direction. 

   I took a breath, tapped into my inner compass and continued putting one foot in front of the other, hoping I would not fall into a gully or bump into a tree. Many times I stopped, squinting as hard as possible into the darkness… feeling bewildered. It seemed I was walking down hill instead of up. Disoriented and very alone, I couldn’t make out a thing, yet my gut told me to keep going. No hard breathing, no heart beats  jumping out of my chest, and my muscles were so relaxed I could’ve been walking  through a pool of warm water. 

   Before I knew it I was at the top of the hill. What happened to that demanding climb?  Why did I feel refreshed instead of fatigued? Why was I not even thirsty? Then it occurred to me that all this time my laborious experiences with the herculean hill had all been my mind’s creation. Since I couldn’t visually see the severity of the incline going up up up, my mind couldn’t interpret it as “difficult,” so it was as easy as walking through an open field.

   Perhaps nothing in life would be hard if the mind never received a glimpse of what was involved. 

No matter what you’re going through, keep going. You’ll make it.

Repost from 2013