It seems like for the greater portion of my life, I strove and fought to get to the place where I could finally say “this is where I’m supposed to be.” I kept waiting on life to raise that white flag and say, “Alright. You found me!” What I learned, however, is that this “place” we strive so hard to get to is like a mirage. Sometimes we think we can see a glimpse of it forming before us, but the closer we get to it, the quicker it dissolves into thin air and replaces itself with a new vision.
Has it always been this way? Have we always been a people who are never satisfied, who are always searching for more? Was there ever a time when people just lived?
These questions truly began to develop last week while my husband and I were backpacking in the Smoky Mountains. With only a mile or so left of the trail to climb, it started to snow, and as we ascended, the weather grew colder, and the snow fell stronger and more blustery than I had ever witnessed before. My clothes started getting wet, my hands were becoming icicles, and my spirits were dampening by the minute. Obviously, getting to my destination and getting warm were my primary concerns; all of my other worries had seemed to vanish.
As a result, I began to think about the people who used to inhabit those mountains hundreds of years ago. They weren’t worried about how many calories they consumed, how high they could climb up the corporate ladder, or how shiny their new cars were. They weren’t constantly attached to cell phones or continuously checking their social-networking accounts. They focused on what was real, and reality for these people was family…and survival. We, on the contrary, live lives where failure isn’t an option, where the amount of choices we have is incalculable, and where stress is a natural part of life. In sum, we live in an easy world that we choose to make difficult.
I realized that all it takes is getting out of our comfort zones–even for just a day–to really make us feel alive and human. Simply take us out of our element for a moment, and we will find ourselves falling back into a pattern mimicking that of a child: yearning to be warm, fed, held, dry, and clean. Everything else–all the noise that drowns out what truly matters in life–no longer seems to matter.
Living a slower, simpler life can help connect us with our desire to feel safe…human…loved. This desire is what sets us apart from everything else; it’s what the human soul craves the most. It’s what we live for.
As we climbed down the mountain the next day, the sun shone brightly, and the formerly snow-laden tree boughs revealed blooms that would blossom within a few, short days. It seemed as if we had been transplanted to another season. Life is like that sometimes. Below the surface of all of our worries and problems, something special is taking shape just for us. We need only to calm our minds, listen for God’s still voice, and truly learn to let go of those things that incessantly burden us.
The snow storms of life don’t have to stop us from living. The sun will always rise, and with that, we have peace.