“Yielding means inner acceptance of what is. You are open to life. When you yield internally, when you surrender, a new dimension of consciousness opens up.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
Yesterday, Steve and I decided it would be a great day for a family hike. So, we loaded up the car and headed up to Boulder. I found a 4+ mile hike just outside of Boulder near Eldorado Canyon on Trails.com that looked promising, so we went for it. Because we got a late start on the day, it was already 82 degrees when we pulled into the South Mesa Trail parking lot around noon. I knew the boys would whine about the heat, but we were there and Steve and I were bound and determined to get the exercise.
The boys, usually quite able bodied and semi-amenable to hiking, were in rare form from the start. Joe had consumed so much water on the drive up that he was wanting to mark his territory every half mile. Luke, a kid who hates to be either too hot or too cold, was moving slowly and in a constant state of whine about how sweaty he was. Being not the world’s most sympathetic person (understatement), I told them that if they’d stop using so much energy to complain they’d have more energy to hike faster and finish sooner. True story.
The first mile was a bit rough as the boys complained and dragged their feet, hoping we would suspend the exercise. We were annoyed but persisted in our determination to complete the hike. During the entire second mile, I was fairly certain my husband (who is one of the most patient people I have ever known) would eventually strangle Luke, who could not seem to tamp down his whining. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about children, it’s that they’re like animals; they can smell hesitancy and fear and will use your weakness against you. Luke was working it.
As Luke whimpered and cried foul, Steve went from grimacing about it to full on bitching at him while I went to my happy place. I’m not sure what it is about Boulder that makes me so dang happy, but I’m at peace there. As the war between Luke and his father began to escalate, I became increasingly calm. I took turns talking to both of them, positioning myself in between them as a buffer, and trying to resolve the situation with a positive attitude. The more they bickered, the less I seemed to care. I was able to focus on the beauty of the landscape, the pine scent rising from the trees, the cool breeze on my sun-warmed skin, and the joy of being somewhere that I love to be with the people who mean the most surrounding me. I escaped from the negativity of the situation by focusing on what I loved rather than on what I disliked. It was very zen of me, I thought.
As we got into the third mile, we hit the forest and Luke was shaded enough to stop whining a bit. Joe had at last peed himself out. Steve had nothing left to feel frustrated about. The hike became what I envisioned it would be, a fun little walk with my family somewhere new. I’m not sure if it was my attitude that diffused the negativity or the negativity that changed my own attitude, but something made the whole experience positive rather than negative and we ended the 4.5 mile hike feeling good about it overall.
How often do we tense up when things aren’t going the way we want and in our tension merely compound the situation? Sometimes, the best thing we can do when things get rough is to let go of expectation and relax. And, as we yield to the way things are rather than dreaming of the way we wanted things to be, we make peace with the present moment and life begins to look not quite as bad as we thought. Occasionally we waste too much energy on a battle when we should surrender instead. Sometimes making peace with a situation is not a defeat at all but a victory in disguise.