Thursday, 28 August 2014

Mountain Man

There are days I think I would just as soon become a mountain man, pitch a tent a hundred miles back in the bush, eat berries and tree bark, dance around a fire naked on full moons and grow a big old grey beard I can throw over my shoulder. You know… one of those days when everything seems to cheese grate your nerves.

It would be peaceful in the woods, no?

I remember a story I read several years ago about a monk who was looking for peace yet couldn’t seem to quite get it.

The monk asked his mentor about his trouble finding peace and the mentor said, “Go up the mountain. There is a cave at the end of the path. Stay there for a year meditating every day. You will find peace and harmony.”

The monk set off the next morning and within the day he had reached the cave. He set about finding food and building a fire, then began meditating. His life was simple. He chopped wood, gathered food, carried water and meditated. After a year he felt peaceful and in harmony with everything. He returned to the sanctuary. His mentor met with him and remarked how he seemed at peace. The young monk said he felt great yet he had been a bit lonely. “Ah. Now then,” said his mentor, “Go to the city for a week. Meditate every day. Then return here.”

The monk did as he was told. When he returned a week later, he was frazzled. He felt like he had lost all he gained the year before. The mentor sat him down once again. “It is very easy to find peace and harmony when no-one else is around to interrupt your focus. But real life is lived amongst others. We are social creatures. After a year on the mountain, you know what peace and harmony feel like. Just feel it. You will know true mastery of peace and harmony when you can focus yourself while those around you run amok.”

Perhaps a hundred miles is a bit far. The beard sounds cool though.

I have heard it said that finding balance is the key to a peaceful life. I tend to disagree. I believe harmony is a much better state to reach toward. Seeking balance is a goal seldom achieved. Life throws curve balls into the mix on a daily basis. How does one achieve (and then maintain) balance when the boss suddenly needs overtime, one of the kids ingests a couple of Legos and it’s off to the hospital, the cat gets out of the house, dinner burns, there’s a power outage and you have to have a report done for tomorrow, your spouse invites his boss for dinner… tonight, etc.

Seeking balance is not a bad thing. Expecting to get it and maintain it is a short path to insanity.

It’s much better to be harmonious. Harmony is taking whatever the world throws at you and dealing with it calmly. Harmony is taking time to be in nature when you can. Harmony is being able to feel the grass on your toes and smell the pine trees in the forest even while typing a blog post late at night. Harmony is when the world hands you lemons and you make lemonade.

Harmony is taking the notes of life and mixing them into song.

There is no end goal to harmony. It is simply a state of being. Finding the harmony in your life will set your mind at ease and ultimately have you feeling peaceful. Ultimately, harmony is the knowledge that everything happening in your life is supposed to happen that way and at that time.

Now to start working on that beard.