Last week I spent a day doing trail maintenance on the trail up one of Colorado’s many 14ers – Mt. Bierstadt. It was a glorious day spent with some wonderful folks. We hiked up to the spot we were working early in the morning, worked ‘til a little after lunch, then headed back down to the trailhead at the pass.
As we walked up in the morning, I asked the crew chief if she saw many elk in the area – she said she’d never seen elk. Well, we’re above timberline in an area where there are plenty of elk, so I just figured nobody had ever shown her what to look for. I scanned the parks for any groups still visible, but wasn’t able to come up with any.
Then, walking back to the trailhead in the afternoon, I was watching the birds beside the trail to see which ones I could identify, and continuing to look for other animals. As I approached a boggy bottom, I noticed a nice bull moose about 150 yards off the trail, enjoying some time in the water. I looked up ahead along the trail, and saw everyone walking along, heads straight ahead, eyes mostly down.
When I got back to the trailhead, I shared the pictures I’d taken of the moose with some disappointed hikers.
That’s the way we move through life sometimes – head straight ahead, eyes focused on the next step in front of us. Sometimes, this is a great way to move through life. When we’re under pressure, and really need to focus on the task at hand, the last thing we need is distraction.
But what about the rest of the time – all that time we’re moving through life and enjoying it? How much of that time do we spend with our head up, looking around for the adventure and life all around us? I know I’m often guilty of just plodding along as-if life is a drudge, and when I do that, then life starts to feel like a drudge.
But when I make sure my head’s up and I’m watching for glory and beauty and adventure all around me, then lo and behold, I start to see it.
Wouldn’t it be a shame to end up back at the trailhead, when life is winding down, and discover that we missed all the moose and elk along the path?
The more important lesson for me is how much of my time along the trail is spent in situations where I need to keep my eyes on the next step, vs how much of my time I make sure I’ve got the chance to look around and explore. That’s probably one of the best barometers of life quality that I could define.
I need to make sure my life is full of plenty of lookin’ around time, and then make sure I spend it lookin’ around!
If the plural of mouse is mice, and the plural of louse is lice, and the plural of goose is geese, then shouldn’t the plural of moose be mice or meese? Just sayin’…