Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Mountain Doesn't Care If It's Cloudy

In a couple of weeks, Kathy and I will be in Alaska for the wedding of a cousin (whom I've never met), and a reunion with my dear uncle David, my aunt Aileen, and my cousins Debbie, Susan, and Paul (for more about uncle David, see the 5/15/10 blog). 

It will be our first time in the Forty-Ninth State, and we are also taking a side trip to Denali National Park. The centerpiece of this area is Denali (aka, Mt. McKinley). With the summit towering to 20,320 feet, Denali (meaning "The High One" in the Athabaskan language) is the tallest peak in North America. It is also notorious for being shrouded in fog and clouds a good part of the time. Since we are flying into the park, we are certainly hoping for good weather, not just because we'd like to see the mountain, but also because we'd like to avoid danger.

Jon Kabat-Zinn has a guided imagery meditation in which he asks participants to embody the qualities of a mountain: its steadfast strength, its stillness, its dignity. He describes various weather conditions in all of the seasons, and the fact that tourists come to look at the mountain. Sometimes, he says, the tourists are disappointed when they can't see the mountain. Through it all, the mountain just sits. It doesn't care if it's day or night, cloudy or sunny, warm or cold, and it certainly doesn't care if people go away unsatisfied.

In the same way, the weather of our own lives is impersonal. We, like the mountain, don't have to react negatively toward every storm, or to cling to the pleasant days. We can just sit, allowing the weather and the seasons of our lives to pass over us. While the weather must be acknowledged and not denied, we also don't have to take it all so personally.

So I still hope to get a postcard shot of Denali to bring back with me, and if it happens to be a day when the view is obscured, I hope to remember that Denali doesn't care if we can see it or not, and maybe I can embody some of its qualities.


No comments:

Post a Comment