Day 5: Gain Perspective
Today I’m standing in deep snow, on the last leg of the 14km ski run – La Piste des Cascades – which starts at the highest point of the Grand Massif ski area and finishes in our village. We call it our home run.
Looking at the run as a whole, it’s a bit like a metaphor for life: some parts are gentle and smooth, others steep and difficult, and there are long flat stretches where you have to push yourself along. Overall, it’s glorious and exhilarating, but there are places where it doesn’t feel like that.
When we take a moment to step back and broaden our perspective, we strengthen our resilience.
For our pause today, join me in reflecting on the life you’ve lived so far, and what you still have to live for, beyond the current challenges.
Hello and welcome to Day 5 of 7 Days on the Winter Mountain – a chance for us to pause together for a few minutes.
And today I’m standing – dug into a load of snow so that I can be stable – on the last leg of a 14km ski run that leads down to our home from the top of the mountain. And for those of you who watched any of the series last year, you might remember that I spoke to you from this same place in that series in the spring. And today, because there’s so much snow, and it’s quite a bright sky, I’ve actually had to position myself with the background of trees so that you can see me at all. Otherwise you know I was completely dark against a very white background.
And I’ve been reflecting again on the nature of this 14 km run. When i spoke to you about it last year, I talked about how necessary it is to take this run at a slow pace. It’s intended to be taken slow, I think, in order to enjoy its ups and downs and to appreciate its ups and downs. And I’ve been reflecting on that today. On the fact that normally around this place, if we were to stop here, we’d have skied down to it. Today, we walked up to it. I’m standing here in snowshoes – quite a different experience, obviously. I want to say that, if I allowed myself, I might have regretted the fact that we couldn’t ski down to it. The reason we can’t ski down to it is because we can’t get up to the point, or at least not without huge difficulty, from which we’d ski down, because none of the ski lifts are operating during the pandemic. So we walked up.
And what I kind of invited myself to do at the beginning of our walk was to appreciate every step of it, even though it was really hard work. It wasn’t perhaps the same joyful kind of ‘wee!’ of skiing down, but nevertheless not to let that stop me enjoying the experience of the moment. And looking up and looking at the amazing scenery. And looking at everything around me, perhaps in some of the tiniest details: the spruce and pine trees to my left, footprints from animal tracks, the bird song. Many other things that might have eluded me, if I’d allowed myself only to focus on the regret of not being able to ski.
So I – you might see the metaphor here – I wonder if we might look at this 14 km ski run, that some of you will know if you’ve been here and others won’t. But if you imagine a run with, you know, uphill bits, flat bits, downhill bits, in bad weather very icy bits particularly at the bottom, some really challenging bits too that you have to navigate. If you imagine that this 14 km ski run is a little bit like the metaphor of our life. If you were to look back over the stretch of your life, there will hopefully have been times when it’s been, you know, easy going – easier anyway – periods of great joy and happiness, moments of excitement. There will also be times where it’s been really hard and now might well be one of those – and indeed I know it is for many of you. But if we take this period – which seems to be going on and on, for sure, much longer than any of us would have anticipated this time last year – if you can look at the stretch of your life and somehow see this admittedly very long stretch as but a part of it that will pass.
So, thinking of this run, the bits which are really hard-going, where you have to kind of walk and pole – and that’s, you know, tough on skis if you’re not used to it – knowing that they’re but a part of a very beautiful whole.
In our pause today, I invite you, encourage you, as best you can, which might be hard – depending on how you’re feeling – but I encourage you to look at the whole of your life so far, and ahead to what you still have to live for, and see this as a part of it. A tough part, but a part.
As we begin our pause together, remembering our three steps: pressing the pause button somewhere here, bringing our attention into this space, and breathing simultaneously into the back of our hand if you’ve placed it there like me, focusing into the space that you create as you breathe in and as you breathe out, releasing.
(And I was just looking at a skier who has walked the whole way up, skiing back down.)
So breathing in, closing your eyes or lowering your gaze, breathing into this space (the solar plexus), creating space, knowing that you are breathing in. And breathing out, releasing and letting go, knowing that you are breathing out. And reflecting on the whole of your life, the whole of the journey of your life so far…
When you’re ready, open your eyes or lift your gaze. And thank you for joining me here today. I hope it’s given you some space to pause and reflect. And I look forward to seeing you again tomorrow.