Wednesday, September 24, 2008

50th Entry in the Forest

Life is so busy.

Today I begin to write this essay in the waiting room of our local office of the IRS, and finish it late lying nearly asleep, writing on my yellow pad at any available moment during, and between, tasks on my long, long list of the day.

Life is always busy. Lists are always long.

I keep scrambling through the underbrush of these lists, tasks snarling at my ankles. I methodically multi-task my way in relentless pursuit of the mountaintop from where I will be able one day to look out over the other side, taking measure of the broad landscape of a life with not a single list in sight.

Day in, day out, hour by painful, slogging hour, running here, dodging there, I seek the top of the Mountain which never appears. Nor do I even find a comfortable ledge for rest along the path.

Exhaustion and depression threaten if I stare at the lists too long. It is overwhelming to calculate just how much time it might take to accomplish each item and add that to the Whole. Dangerous enough to contemplate first thing in the morning for fear of never climbing out of bed, it is even worse to awaken startled at 3 AM in a sweat of panic that wide open eyes will not shut again before dawn.

During the day, no sooner is one task completed, marked off, and passed by, but like trees in the forest, there is no seeing beyond all the others to catch even a faint glimpse of the destination.

You just know it is there.

You have Faith.

For years, I have been plodding along, scrambling to pay bills with work that rewards me with dollars at the end of the week for nearly every hour I can charge. So many days though, it has felt like I was just cutting down and sawing up the tall, straight studs of Douglas Fir, installing them honorably into shelters for humankind , but overcome in the struggle of it, doing it without Spirit, and therfore, not successfully.

All the while, I have yearned to walk among the beautiful birch, stroll with companions in the moonlight under the flickering, silvery leaves. A story teller, by nature, I would describe the heart of our struggles to see our forests, and exalt the stories of those who overcome their fears of failure, finding their particular mountaintop where lists are no longer drugery, but blessings.

I have allowed myself to be sidetracked, lost my way.

Now, the trees one by one are changing--in my imagination first, then on this page. Step by measured step, not yet giving up my “day job”, I keep moving forward, completing tasks and choosing new, and different, assignments. Today, for example, in real life, thanks to Hayden Tompkins, under the canopied list of my varied identities, I added the description of editor.

Please share with your friends


persistentillusion said...

That's a giant freaking umbrella!

Either way, I've realized that I just have to make time for the stuff that is important to me. Everything else will manage to get done or otherwise it wasn't that important.

I can't wait to see what else your journey brings.

Kip de Moll said...

Is it too subtle a message in the picture that when you do finally reach the top and look out, the view on the other side is still full of trees?

Laurie said...

What is at your mountain top Kip? There will always be tree, some you cut down and some you walk past. Focus on cutting only those trees that are blocking your path to the top.

You said in your comment the view on the other side is still full of trees. Perhaps your idea of the top of the mountain is too low. Maybe what you imagine is found only half way us and you are limiting yourself as to how high up that mountain you can be striving to reach.

For me, there are peaks along the trail up the mountain where I find beautiful views. Work, family, spouse, but on the top of my mountain is the maker of the mountain. That is where my journey is. And the maker wants me to reach the top as well so he encourages me every step of the way and picks me up when I stumble along the path. I believe that to place anything else at the top of my mountain will lessen my journey. To realize that God is the top of my mountain gives everything else purpose.

Pauline said...

Put the word "writing" on your list, along with smile, hug, appreciate. Then thank everyone of those Douglas Firs for their hearts, and your own will mend. (And keep writing these marvelous explorations into your thoughts!)


Kip de Moll said...

Hayden, your giant freaking thanks still has me glowing!

Laurie--funny, my head was so focused on the metaphor of seeing the forest for the trees, I actually missed totally the forest you were in!

It's an example of my Quaker background which assummes the Light is within all of us, including the Mountain and the trees. It is as evident and pervasive as breath itself, acknowledged in silent worship, and best expressed through Action, by loving our neighbors and helping to better the world in each and every moment.

Pauline, I sing the praises of Doug Fir every time I see a beam (not so much in Eastern houses), and believe in the tradition of attaching an evergreen to the highest point of a newly constructed house.
Thanks for your encouragement (and don't let my next post stop you!)

Beth said...

I thought the line about walking among the birch was beautiful. Keep heading for that.