Can you feel it?
Breath in your lungs.
Life in your bones.
You are here.
Do you see it?
If you are able, look into the eyes of those around you. These, the window to the soul, have something to tell you.
Quiet your mind and your heart.
How are you?
No, but really.
How are you?
I know what you mean. I have been there too.
Steady yourself, friend.
Feel and see and listen.
We are connected. What you do eventually impacts me and what I do impacts you as well. We must pay attention to one another, to ourselves, to the life that desires to burst forth and carry us forward, onward, step by step, moment by moment.
I spent my Spring Break with four of my students and a dear friend I work with. It was the college trip I never had, camping and hiking, laughing, playing, adventuring in national parks. We shared campfires and told stories and chose to get out of the daily grind to push ourselves in ways that forced us to step away from what makes us comfortable, and to step into uncomfortable experiences (fear, pain, perseverance, exhaustion, anxiety, annoyance, frustration) that came with great reward. We had no choice but to pay attention to the natural world around us and to one another. It was all that we had in places with limited cell service and minimal amenities (no showers and a quarter mile walk to the bathroom).
As we hiked up trails crowded with others pushing themselves through their discomfort to experience the beauty in the place we were, I couldn't help but look people in their eyes and wonder about their stories. I didn't know what brought them to that place, but there we were, struggling, and living, together.
Nothing but mountains and rivers and rugged, natural beauty exclaiming how small and limited we are, simultaneously screaming that indeed, we each are alive, witnessing the grandeur of a world that both shakes and stabilizes us.
The last hike we did was in Bryce Canyon. It was the ninth (and unknowingly last) hike of the trip, which were all done within 3 days time. Every hike we ventured on ended up being longer than the signs indicated, and this one was no exception.
The worst part? It ended going uphill on steep switchbacks. (How unrewarding is an uphill finale?)
There are absolutely no words for the exhaustion we were all feeling on that final leg of the journey.
As we slowly made our way up the final switchbacks, one of my students (annoyingly, but lovingly) charged ahead and would turn around to watch and cheer the rest of us on.
"Just one step at a time. You got this."
And you know what? As much we wanted to strangle him and his enthusiasm, he was absolutely right.
We got it.
We made it.
It was in each of our time, but one by one we ascended out of the canyon, feeling exhausted, but also accomplished.
The impossible turned to possible.
It took each of us paying attention to what the others needed, and being just that for one another, whether or not we knew we needed it (or even wanted it).
This past week truly felt like an unexpected gift, as if something awoke within me once more, pointing me to feel and see and listen in ways that I haven't for awhile.
It reminded me to pay attention to myself and those around me, to all of what makes us who we are, and to remember our resilience. That we have made it to today, and just that is something worth celebrating.
So, today, however you may be feeling, however you may be doing, remember that life in your bones.
Dear friends, it's just one step at a time.
One foot in front of the other.
You got this. Believe me, you've got this.