So...what happens when we get to the top of that mountain? You know what I mean. That mountaintop where we reach enlightenment. Where we find our true selves...the meaning of life. Where we feel peace and calm and joy no matter what is going on down below.
Is that even where we really want to be? Are there other people up there? What would happen to my husband? My kids? My friends? Are there restaurants up there, or do I have to cook all my meals? Can I still dress up and go dancing on Saturday night? Isn’t it lonely? Do you just sit and meditate? I’m sorry, but I don’t really have time. I have to make dinner and make money and make phone calls. I have to make it to Parent/teacher meetings and to go to the bank and clean the bathroom because my in laws are coming. I’m not sure I have time to go up to that mountain today. I certainly can’t live up there.
I was explaining to a spiritual friend (a friend who has no kids and pays very low rent) that as much as I would love to truly reach a perpetually spiritual state of being I simply don’t have time. I have too many responsibilities. I’m too busy. He shook his head in mock seriousness and said. “You’re right…moms can’t reach enlightenment.” Oh. Right. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You don’t have to live in a monastery to feel peace. You can do it little by little. Day by day. Ten minute meditation after 20 minutes of sun salutations. You can do it by simply setting the intention and moving toward it. You can do it naturally by noticing the beauty of the light through the trees, through your son’s exuberant smile and through your breath and through your breath and through your breath.
You can notice your overreactions with curiosity. You can notice your fears and what you do about them. You can go to the uncomfortable places and breathe through them. You can climb the mountain in a way that works for you. Slowly. In fits and spurts. Every time you climb you get better at climbing. You get into better shape. It gets easier and more comfortable. Just like everything else we practice.
Perhaps we’re not doing this alone. Maybe what it really looks like is a big crowd of people walking up that mountain. The whole human race walking up that mountain. Some still trying to carry lots of baggage and some being brave enough to let more and more of that go. And just like any large group of people walking in the same direction some are in front and some behind. Some take long rests. Some go painfully slowly and we are all in a process of both waiting for the ones behind and being propelled by the ones in front. Your family and friends are with you because... they’re with you. If you are much faster or slower than them then you will separate from them. It’s ok. It’s just how that works.
I bet that as we get higher on that mountain, there will actually be more dancing...better restaurants...and in-laws that don’t care whether or not the bathroom is clean.