It was an unseasonably warm February.
A clear sky gently sheltered a light dusting of snow on a path in a secluded wooded area. Under these ideal conditions, a fellow introvert and I dressed lightly and put on our cross-country skis to enjoy the solitude, together.
It seemed as if nothing could make the experience any better. Gratitude was abundant. Relating to each other was easy and the mood was light and carefree.
Two weeks later on a different ski trail, in a distant place, the conditions were much less than ideal. The groomed, high-traffic path was icy as a result of several days of warm temperatures that then plummeted to below freezing overnight, This meant that the track was smoothed down by the multitude of skiers.
With the ice as smooth as a newly-Zambonied skating rink beneath our skis, there was next to no control. Our slip-sliding, wobbly, shuffle skiing brought to mind the adage ‘three steps forward, two steps back’.
There was nothing carefree about this experience and the edge in our voices was almost as sharp as the ones on our skis. Patience was left back in the parking lot at the beginning of the trail.
What a difference a little grounding makes!
In ideal conditions, it was quite simple to be a calm. To recognize so many reasons for gratitude. To be present and not overthink.
When the conditions were characterized by a lack of solid grounding, there was a noticeable increase in thought loops that circled around how bad things were. I focused on what was not working to the point that the surroundings were all but invisible to me.
It’s easy to be mindful when conditions are ideal.
- When people are behaving as we think they should behave
- When situations are going exactly as we planned
- When we get exactly what we wish for
- When there are no unpleasant surprises or tragic events
Instead of giving into the wobbly, slip-sliding lack of balance, perhaps we could see these conditions as a chance dig deep to find our gratitude, courageously negotiate the aggravating groundlessness, keep our eyes open and
practice accepting the fact that conditions are, most often, less than ideal.
So at least we know there’ll always be opportunities to grow in resilience!