So many of the “aha!” moments in my life come when I am on walks through nature. It might be inspiration channeled through my surroundings, but more realistically, these realizations likely occur because I actually have an opportunity to slow down and think, though some days this is more challenging than others.
Recently, my husband and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary with a hike on a well-worn, local horse trail after a relaxing picnic in the shade of the trees. As you may already know, horses poop… a lot. So every so often, we found ourselves having to strategically sidestep these equestrian-landmines. If we were not careful, one could easily find a shoe engulfed in a pile of steaming misfortune.
As we walked on the trail, I realized that I was spending much of my time looking down, treading cautiously so that I would not step in the wrong spot. As understandable as this approach was, I found myself missing out on much of the scenery and some rather wonderful company. By moving cautiously and watching out for the poop, I was missing out on the best moments.
So I started to look up. I began to pay attention to the trees and the birds, and really engage with my husband and the present moment. And then the inevitable happened… I stepped in the poop.
In a way, the symbolism of this moment reminded me of life. Just as I did on the trail, I feel that I spend a lot of my time watching out for the potential horse-piles of life. I am careful to look out for hazards. I weigh my options, considering the consequences of my decisions. Yet, worry as I might, there is no way to anticipate all possible outcomes. As a result, I miss out on the enjoyment of many moments along the way.
The thing is, that no matter what we do, $#!+ happens. Sometimes we can see it coming. Other times it sneaks up on us. Cars break down. Dogs run away. Family members get sick. (Almond) milk spills. Try as we might, there is no way to foresee all of the pitfalls in daily life. The more attention we focus on planning for these bad moments, the more we miss out on the good ones. Sometimes, it’s simply better to spend our energy focusing on the good.
By the time we finished our hike, my husband and I had shared an amazing afternoon with one another. We challenged ourselves to climb atop of a hill high above the beaten path. We got lost along the way and collectively navigated our way back to the car after an unexpected detour. The world around us was lush and green. It was a day for just the two of us to celebrate and enjoy one another. The droppings on my shoe were relegated to a minor inconvenience.
We cannot escape the poop. Occasionally, some things are unavoidable and the bad moments are really just that bad. But more often than not, with a little time and distance the day-to-day downers eventually fade away. Real or metaphorical, I would never recommend seeking out the “road apples” and intentionally. Yet. it is almost always worth looking up and enjoying what life has to offer. Because really in most instances, the poop isn’t really as bad as it seems.
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