Portland, ORThere are silver linings in things that catch you at the oddest moments. Being a goal driven person who tends to forget that her body has limitations, I have throughout my life made decisions to climb that hill, walk that trail, take those stairs and set of with every intention of just plowing through like a machine.  That’s a logical left brain way of achieving a goal. Luckily my body brings me back into the now relatively quickly, which has given me some insights and just amazing sites along the way. I have hiked in the Alps and seen vista after vista, not because I scaled the heights, but because I had to stop every so often so as not to pass out. When I do I’ve learned to turn around and look behind me, both to see how much I’ve accomplished but also to see the view that accomplishment has afforded me.  I’ve seen views of my home town that took my breath away, peeked into hidden spaces tucked away in nooks only visible from one certain prospect, and been blessed to see valley’s roll out in front of me kissed by beams of sunlight slipping between the clouds.

These aren’t the views I came for. They aren’t the goal or even connected with it. But they enriched the experience as well as helping me learn more about myself and thereby making the final achievement mean so much more.  This turning back isn’t about looking back a where you’ve been or dragging the past with you.  It’s about being present for the journey by checking in once in a while.  We can’t know how well we’re doing if we don’t take a pause to see how far we’ve come. Also, things will have changed between then and now which might mean we need to do things differently for the next leg of the journey. In the process of working towards the goal we not only change things but are changed in the process. As we acquire more wisdom, skills, abilities, there are more opportunities to work smarter, to take care of ourselves, and to enjoy the process.

Long term progress is only achievable if we pay attention to ourselves during the increments. If we don’t we may ignore things which are causing us damage and that might make it impossible for us to succeed.  The climb to the top of a hill is pointless if we aggravate a stress fracture 90% of the way and have to be brought back down for medical attention. Or we could miss the really obvious. If we don’t take a pause once in a while so we can look around us and take in the sights, we might miss the signs that say “tram to the top this way” or “gorgeous climbing partner looking to share experience.” Seeing the incremental progress we’ve made along the way can be all the motivation we need to get us to the top with enough energy and momentum to enjoy it once we get there.  Just because we haven’t yet reached our goal doesn’t mean that what we have done and who we are isn’t valuable.  If we can’t appreciate ourselves during the journey, we more than likely won’t even once we’ve reached the goal.