Sunday, May 20, 2012

Beyond the Visitors Center

Hundreds of people are gathered at Multnomah Falls visitor center.  With triple scoop ice cream cones in hand, they stand nodding their heads Clark Grizzwald style at the waterfall cascading proudly before them.  They take a few obligatory pictures, and head off for the gift shop to buy souvenirs.   80 % of them will never make it to the trailhead.

Because they would be gasping for air on that first mile long climb, they will miss the picturesque overlook of the Columbia River below.  Because their muscles cannot handle a two mile hike, they’ll miss the enchanted forest, lush and green.  Because they don’t have the stamina to cross the jagged trails, they’ll miss the majestic waterfalls- too many to count. And because they don’t have the endurance to climb to the summit, they’ll miss the breathtaking views and calm spender of the snowcapped peak. 

In his book Running with the Mind of Meditation, Sakyong Miphain Rinpoche states that “The secret to long term happiness is engaging in activities that are healthy mentally and physically.  Physical unhappiness comes from stagnation, non-movement, bad posture, poor quality food, not enough liquid or lack of oxygen.”    In other words, driving to the visitor’s center and then heading to McDonalds for lunch. 

Being physically and mentally healthy requires effort and perhaps a leap outside of your comfort zone; but I’ve found that by working hard, I can play harder.   Take a risk and try that road less traveled, because in my experience that is where the magic is. 

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