Perseverance & Contemplation

Some of you know that I recently completed a 6-day, 71 mile backpacking trip from Sequoia National Park to Mt. Whitney on the High Sierra Trail.  It was not easy all of the time, with rocky, uphill trails and at high elevations.  The first lesson that had a familiar face was the one about persevering and not giving up.  There were a couple of days when I was quite uncomfortable by the late afternoon, with tired shoulders from carrying the pack and aching feet from plodding thousands of steps and I heard my wife’s voice again  asking “why are you doing this?”  I had to keep going, since the other options were not, well, acceptable.  I pushed through the discomfort and achieved that day’s goal, and like life itself, is a metaphor for those times in our lives when we really want to quit, but we just can’t.  We have to go on, and guess what?  There is an end to the trail, and renewal.

The other takeaway from this trip is the inordinate amount of time you have to be by yourself, and with all those little voices who travel with you in your head.  Oh, the conversations you can have.  I spent time praying for some of you, singing all the songs I know, imaging worst case scenarios (waste of time), and thinking up ideas for new articles.  All this while absorbing in all the beauty and wildness of the Sierra mountain range.  I did come to the conclusion that I will not go on any more adventures on my own, but include my wife and/or my children and grandchildren from now on.  Life is too short to be away from them for any length of time.

Lastly, I encourage all of you to get outside and embrace nature.  Go to a park near you and take off your shoes and walk in the grass.  Reconnect to the earth.  I know it’s hot, so go in the early morning when it’s still cool.  Doesn’t have to be long, just time enough to take some deep breaths and smell the outdoors, and refresh yourself.  It’s great for the mind and it’s great for the soul.  Be well.  Dr. Ben

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