On solemn days, I often go to my favorite lookout point that offers a sweeping view of the valley below. There’s a small bench nestled between two large bushes that only the locals know, providing perfect solitude and tranquility. Across the valley are rows of houses perched on the hillside in the distance.
I transport my mind into each of these beautiful family homes, wondering what all the people inside experience in their daily lives. Oh, if those walls could talk, they would speak of the triumphs and failures, the dreams and disasters, the ups and downs, the highs and lows within those four walls. And the secrets we keep, we are creatures that lock up our spirits, drill holes in our walls and live for these secrets. How many desires go unfulfilled, how many fantasies fizzle, how many goals get crushed like a bug, how many dreams burn to the ground. Alternatively, how many glorious moments happen, abundant love filled with laughter and amazing memories?
Living the human experience will undoubtedly cover the full range of emotions for all of us. We all have to pay our dues and put in the work to manage the sweet and sour as best as we can as human beings. Soaring happy days and drowning depths of despair. Advancements and setbacks. Love. Pain. Anger. Joy. Rage.
I wish we could each watch our own existence from this valley view as it helps puts it all in perspective. Often, I wish I could step out of my own mind and watch all my experiences and travails. How much stronger would each of us be, how much better would we be equipped to manage all our storms, big and small, if we could see the big picture? If we could just see that even those heavy moments, those dark clouds that linger, ultimately pass on and leave brighter days; that a bad day can be followed by a beautiful day; that seemingly insurmountable challenges often resolve themselves.
In a recent survey of seniors, they were asked what was their biggest regret in life. The #1 answer was they wished they hadn’t worried so much, weren’t so anxious about life and all the challenges they faced. Looking at it all from afar, across the valley here, it seems so much simpler, almost as if we had stepped out from the dark clouds looming over our heads. Big problems seems smaller, we can see how things have a way of working themselves out and therefore wouldn’t sweat the small stuff. All the petty fights, the stupid drama, the little annoying things that fester in our minds. We often are too close, too immersed in our problems, to see the bigger picture, the forest for the trees. Even things that felt so important, that weighed us down so heavily yesterday, can feel lighter a day later. If we could see all these gyrations, big and small, observe them with some space and separation from our minds, we’d witness it all with a different perspective. Perhaps realize that this too shall pass. Our moods, emotions and challenges we face constantly shift, so if we can purposefully choose to not dwell too much on our thoughts and anxieties, and stay present in the moment, we can step out of the darkness.
As I gaze out over the valley, reflecting on all these thoughts and transporting to these homes and their lives, it offers solace to me in a cathartic way. Projecting outward, getting out of our own way, thinking of others (friends, pets, etc) is a healthy way to overcome our own internal battles. Inward transmutes outward. A subtle but important shift occurs, my solemn state of mind has lifted, the clouds have passed, and I am ready to move on with a little extra lift in my step.