It’s kind of like the old question that if a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear it?
Several months ago, I began hiking. It was a really nice nature park near my home that offered a brief respite while also being a challenging series of trails certain to bring shortness of breath to anyone in the kind of shape I was in.
That first day was an incredible experience. I had no idea at all of this beauty which existed so close to my home and yet, I had not even known it. That is until I arrived at the foot of this one hill. Of course, what did I know? I had never been there before.
I remember after maybe 10 yards into this hill thinking… how many heart attacks did I just have?
That being said, I kept moving forward all the while wondering if I could make this a habit. The scenery itself had me hooked and already motivated me to return the next day. I also remember wondering if I would ever be able to make it up this hill without the occasional stroke or heart attack.
I was halfway up the hill at this point and let me tell you… I was a mess. Where was the oxygen tank?
I look back at that day now and can sum up my experience since then with a statement my daughter made not too long ago when she joined me on the hike.
“I bet you have this entire park memorized by now.”
I don’t know when it happened, but my motivation continued as I returned to the park each day for my daily hike of 3 miles of up and down hills, snakes, deer, rabbit, eagles, and everything in between.
For me, it became not only a great opportunity to get back in shape, but also an opportunity to unhook myself from technology. This included turning the ringer off of my phone, not checking messages, email, Facebook, or Twitter. It also included no iPod with my favorite mix of music.
It included just me and that trail. I suppose you could call this a tech fast of sorts.
Not too long ago, I recall a moment on the trail where I had scaled that hill I spoke of earlier. As I reached the top this particular time, I was amazed…
“When did this happen?” I asked myself.
When did I start hiking this daily trail not feeling completely winded and void of any heart attacks or strokes?
I began to wonder… what does transformation look like? It seems we all set out longing for it, but we can never place our finger on the very moment it happens. We always seem to notice it later.
Why is this?
Perhaps it happens on these trails the moment when we transition from talking to listening. I believe that when seeking transformation, if our time spent on this quest is primarily spent talking and giving audience to the voices and stresses within our heads that we will only then spend our time walking in circles as sort of a 40 years in the wilderness experience.
For I am not confident that we ourselves are even capable of bringing perspective to the very stresses we carry in this world if left to our own voice, our own soul, our own trail.
But, when we can transition our talk into simply being still, being quiet, and listening, I believe a still small voice will be there to guide us through cheering us on with the sounds of creation. The very creation that came forth by the words of this same voice before there was time.
When does transformation happen?
It happens when one realizes that one can’t live beyond our next breath, for this last breath was and is our only guarantee in this life.
Transformation happens when we begin to understand and surrender to the fact that we cannot control our next breath, we can only seek to be in step with it and to make the most of it.
I can control how I respond to my next breath, not whether I will have a next breath. Finding purpose, peace, and rest in this surrenders us to the hand of a Great Big Love and releases us from the impossible quest of making sense of life on our own and being left with living this life… on our own.
These trails have been good to me. I have found perspective there. I have found peace there. I have found that still small voice once again yet so easily crowded out in the noise of the world among us and the stresses of our daily lives.
Have I arrived yet? Ask me after I take my next breath. For now, one step enough for me.
What does transformation look like anyway? I don’t know, but I hope to look back one day and wonder… when did that happen?