Sunday, February 15, 2015

You Might Not Climb the Ladder

You might not climb the ladder.

You might try, of course. You might even get far, almost to the top, or to what you perceived as the top. You might become disoriented, realizing the ladder grows even as you ascend it, extending infinitely into the sky.

Alternately, you might find it too short, wholly unsuited for the height you have in mind.

You might, in a fit of frustration, decide to throw the ladder aside; grip one of its rickety metal rungs in your closed fists, lift the whole mass of it high over your head, and slam it – clatter, cla-bang – onto the pavement at your side.

You might look at the ladder, it hinges now loosened and jangling, and and wonder what now?

So, you might be forced to invent another way.

You might, for example, try crafting a pulley of hand-braided rope. But when the rains come, the knots in your rope might become weathered and frayed, and your pulley might not seem safe. So you might depend on the strength of your body to hoist yourself up and over railings and around pillars, the muscles of your abdomen contracting with effort.

You might reach what you thought was the top, only to find another, more intricate set of obstacles to navigate. You might find the roof had been an illusion from the ground.

As you stand there, pondering your next move, the building itself might start to sway in the wind. Your legs buckling and quaking beneath you, you might question its construction altogether. Who had built it? What was it made of? Why was it so important to reach the top?

As you ponder the integrity of the structure, the roof might cave in.

You might fall several stories or more. You might stand up, stiff and aching, to survey the rubble and wreckage that now surrounds you.

You might, for a moment, lift your eyes to the horizon. With no ladder and no structure to distract, you might notice, for the first time, where you are.

You might notice, for example, the liveliness of the colors that surround you: the robin's egg blue of the sky, the bright emerald-hued flora, and the light that bathes it all in tones of gold at dusk.

You might notice the others all around you, climbing furiously or tossing their ladders aside or devising alternate methods, or falling to the ground. You might find yourself wondering: what is the point?

You might notice, too, beyond the clanging and the clattering and the structures that surround you, a lush hillside beckons.

So you might begin to walk.

And as you reach the hill and begin to hike its gentle slope, you might realize your shoes had been lost in the fall. You might notice that you feel each individual blade of grass beneath your toes. You might smile what feels like your first real smile.

At the top of the hill, a group might gathered. They might be laughing, and might tease you gently as you arrive. "It took you long enough to get here!" a woman might say, a twinkle in her eye.

You might feel at home immediately without knowing why.

You might turn around and gaze back down the hill and try to call to the others still climbing their ladders. They might not hear you. The wind might carry your voice away.

But every few days, a new person might arrive at the top of the hill and be welcomed into the community.

You might, over time, realize the ladder was never the problem. And that, if only you had lifted your eyes to the horizon sooner, you would have seen the lushness that awaited you.

You might be standing on the ground looking up, daunted. 

You might be pondering whether there's another way to get from where you are to where you want to be.

Listen for that faint voice that calls to you. The one that says look over there

Look hard. 

Do you see it?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Read // Watched // Listened // Savored: January Edition

I do my best to appreciate each month, and strive to be present to its particular gifts. That said, I'm sort of over January. Or rather (since it's not actually January anymore) sort of glad it's over. It felt like a long month of short (albeit lengthening) days, simultaneously fast-moving and yet somehow never-ending.

Despite all that, it was a lovely month in many ways. I did set an intention or "theme" for the year, completed another Whole30 (this time, with my husband), and read, watched, listened to, and savored the following...

(By the way, in case anyone's wondering, these posts never contain any type of affiliate links.)

Over the past three months, I discovered and proceeded to read all of Frank Forencich's work. His take on "the human predicament" and the radical interconnectedness between human health and the environment that surrounds us is nothing short of brilliant. If you read just one of his books, make it this one.

On the fiction front, I started reading John Green's Looking for Alaska, but it's not totally holding my attention. I've got Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect queued up next.

Recent studies have shown that writing about one's own personal experiences can lead to behavioral changes and greater happiness, as described in this article on Writing Your Way to Happiness. (I imagine journalers everywhere are blinking as though someone had announced the sky is blue.)

Speaking of writing, I loved these 25 Writing Hacks From A Hack Writer, many of which I think are applicable as general adulthood hacks. (Found thanks to Caiti via her latest Link Love post.)

I recognized myself in Shauna's post, Burn the Candles. For me, it's fancy soaps and bath products.

I can't wait for these: Elizabeth Gilbert's latest and Gretchen Rubin's latest.

Watched & Listened
Thomas Rhett's cover of "When I Was Your Man" // Kendrick Lamar's "i" // Sera Cahoone's "Deer Creek Canyon" // Yonder Mountain String Band live at Boulder Theater // The "Bluegrass Covers" station on Spotify

Prompted by Serial withdrawal, I started listening to the Criminal podcast. I like that the episodes are self-contained, and how the stories explore human nature through the lens of crime.

Also on the podcast front, I recently discovered Bulletproof Radio, a series in which Dave Asprey interviews today's top thinkers, writers, scientists, and scholars about human performance and how to "upgrade" your life using everything from flow states to systems thinking and much more. It's a bit aggressively "self-help-y" in tone at times, but the topics are usually fascinating and I find myself learning about things I wouldn't normally pay any attention to.

I love Vimeo because I always seem to randomly stumble across beautiful films like this one: Of Souls + Water, about a displaced surfer who finds solace in the rivers of the American West.

I'm planning to download Buddhify today on Susannah's recommendation. (Have you tried it? Thoughts?)

Several Forrest yoga classes. Running outdoors thanks to a week of unseasonably warm and sunny weather.

A long hike in Eldorado Canyon, with a 1,000-ft elevation gain and stunning views of the plains framed by the canyon mouth (photo above). Scrambling up still-icy trails in my YakTrax, I felt very connected to my intention to find #thewildwithin.

Simple weeknight meals of oven-roasted chicken thighs (seasoned with Allie's cumin salt) with arugula salad, sautéed ground lamb + mint + feta over mixed greens, and Paleo kale and sausage minestrone.

A few squares of super high-quality dark chocolate every day. My current favorites are Theo's dark chocolate coconut bar and anything made by Alter Eco.

This candle, picked up on a whim from Target. It's seriously the yummiest scent.

What did you read, watch, listen to, and savor this month?