I was hiking up the Rocky mountains in Alberta recently with a group of friends. Instead of appreciating the stunning natural beauty surrounding us, I mostly had my eyes to the ground picking my way ever so cautiously over jagged rocks and uneven/unstable terrain. Instead of meditatively breathing in lungfuls of clean mountain air, I was huffing and puffing like an overworked choo choo train…
….and I was filled ENVY. (and the brochures said spending time in the mountains was spirtually restoraive…ha!)
I was envious of the others nimbly and seemingly effortlessly prancing up. There was even a self-proclaimed ‘mountain goat’ who could easily have run up. I felt fat, left behind, and a burden.
Of course I’m sure that I’m exaggerating, but the insecurities rose up and felt so real. I was reminded of why as a child I shyed away from physical activities. Athletics never came natuarlly to me so every other gym class, I would either ‘forget’ my clothes OR fake an injury. My gym teachers would sometimes literally roll their eyes at my litany excuses.
Later that afternoon, during our return trek, our group started singing songs. Now I’m no Mariah Carey, but I can certainly hold a tune and by far the best singer of the group. As I eased our enthusiatic but less than talented group through the music, several thoughts came to me;
1. Different gifts: We all are blessed with different gifts; whether it is singing, the gift of gab, organization or kindness. I was sad going up the mountain because I focussed my energies on envying what others had instead of simply admiring them, accepting my gifts were different. Appreciate and find avenues to cultivate and express your unique talents. Celebrate others’ strengths, learn from them, enjoy them.
2. Compassion: It clicked for me that the way I felt chugging up the mountain is what a lot of people feel during academic endeavours or while singing. It doesn’t come easy, you feel stupid or unable, you feel left behind. As an adult, I found those feelings hard to deal with…how do 7 years olds deal with the emotions when addition is a challenge? No wonder kids act out in class or hate school.
3. Humble yourself: Inevitably, a look of bewilderment soon appears on my ‘coachs’ faces whenever I continuously cannot repeat the action they are training me to do. I honestly feel the same way when people go off key while singing…it dumfounds me.
It is important to step out of my comfort zone often to stretch, stay humble, to admire others…to remind myself that I am indeed small and limited.
3. Growing is Good: Many of you reading this would be right to suggest, “Sanj, maybe some physical fitness training might help!”. Right on…just because these things don’t come naturally, doesn’t mean that I cannot make things easier and more enjoyable on my next athletic adventure by doing more cardio. Stuffy gym here I come!! 🙂 I may never be a mountain goat, but a sheep? Now, sheep I can do.
4. Go with your Strengths: You wouldn’t believe the shot of confidence that coursed through my veins as we began singing. All day I had been feeling shaky, tired, unsure, ENVIOUS. Finally, here was something I could throw myself into, that I was better then these folks at…I sang gustily with a certain level of abondon, as I felt my spirit literally rising.
To avoid frustration, I want to really understand my strengths and focus my energies in that direction.
5. Holes in the Universe: Our society very definitively values and rewards certain gifts over others. Sadly, this leaves many people drifting aimlessly unless they are lucky enough to stumble onto their niche. If you have spent a lifetime being made to feel less you may lack the confidence to pursue these ‘alternative’ geniuses within….and thus the tapestry of the world is a little less pretty for the lack of you at your best, bringing your best.
6. God’s eye View: I think it is my privilege to see each person as bringing something special to the table of life. I want to look at people with God’s visionary and creative perspective, having eyes to see their special gifts…
Till next time….baaaaa! 🙂