My previous post began with the destruction of La Casa de Maria and the Center for Spiritual Renewal. For twenty years, I have made a self-pilgrimage to the top of El Cielo. It's a 4.3 mile hike from the Center to the ridge line (8.6 mile round trip) above Montecito. Now, it’ a fine of $5,000 for anyone who even enters the trail after the destruction.
However, that didn’t mean I couldn’t pull out old journals and discover what that climb taught me.
In 1996 I started the hike because I was terrified to do it. Later years, I climbed it to prove to myself that I still could! Each year, it offered new challenges. The first hour was beside San Ysidro creek, the path staying pretty wide and the walk uphill had few boulders. But it was cool under the shelter of coastal oaks. However, turn away from the creek and the trail narrowed into steep switchbacks.
The journal entry I read reported this:
“This has to be the hottest January on record. A blazing sun sears my jeans and jean shirt. I yearn for shorts and a lighter weight top. My legs feel heavier with each step. My head pounds. What lessons will the mountain offer today?
I come away with three:
To reach any goal, it always takes longer than you think it should. I swear each year they move the mountain top. My pace is better than in early years but my legs ache. But I am determined to reach the top. Just like I am determined to write the next book, to create new programs, to clean my office. You know the drill. I must build in extra time because it will always take longer.
Most people turn back when the "heat" is on. I realize that the only people I encounter are stopped at the upper most waterfall that because of a pitiful rainy season, is nothing more than a trickle. They miss the panorama of a Pacific ocean, flat and glassy, the Santa Barbara skyline and Ventura to the South. I was not prepared for the heat. There's a lesson right there!
Keep your eye on the right mountain. I almost turn back. I am so hot and aching. The ridge line seems so far away. Two more switchbacks and I realize I have been staring at the wrong peak. Might be someone else's goal but it is not mine. Wow. Where am I trying to climb someone else's mountain and not mine?
So now, showered and tired, I will allow myself the luxury of a nap. A reward. What will you do to reward yourself this year when you climb your mountain?”
The end of that journal entry. The lessons will resonate.