2012 has been the year of saying “YES” to life. for me…. so much of what I consider my yoga practice occurs miles and miles off my mat. it occurs high above the ground on a flying trapeze, or miles into the ocean on a deep sea fishing adventure. My practice manifests in a joyful approach to each and every day…. especially the challenging ones. i think that every day, every adventure, every encounter, every relationship….. is an opportunity to learn a lesson, or grow in self awareness.
This past weekend, i went camping on Catalina Island with some of my very favorite people on the planet….. and some new friends as well.
the camping crew
We had a spot all picked out… the perfect beach camping oasis.
however…. in order to reach this elysian campsite, we had to take a long boat trip to the island, and then a daunting 7.3 mile ‘trans-Catalina’ hike through the mountains. (and believe me.. i felt every INCH of that last .3 miles).
Living in SoCal, i am no stranger to hiking. i have scaled the ‘secret’, near vertical trek up the side of Paseo Miramar. I have run the steep trails of Mandeville Canyon in the hot sun in preparation for the ‘tough mudder’ race. but somehow….. the challenge of these escapades escaped my mind, which was squarely focused on eating s’mores by a campfire while listening to ghost stories and the waves crashing against the shore. so when i boarded the boat…. in my giddiness for adventure… i neglected to take my dramamine. a near fatal mistake. it MAY have been the longest 90 minutes of my life…. second only to a painful trans-island boat ride in Thailand where i suffered sea-sickness AND battled food poisoning. so needless to say… by the time we landed ashore, my face was a mere shade of green lighter than dorothy’s nemesis in Oz. at this point i was praying to be heli-ported across the island. but i knew we had a long climb ahead, so i braced for the journey & joined the group trek.
it was hot. it was far. it was looooooooong. all in all….. it took nearly 3 hours to make the journey. A lesser group of adventurers may have focused on the struggle of the climb. instead…. we chose to follow some sage Yoga advice, and “enjoy the journey”. We packed coconunt water and granola bars. we swapped stories of junior high school and secret love affairs. we discussed the ancient Mayan prophesies, and put our 10 minds together to solve all the world’s problems. halfway through the trip, our fearless leader michelle pulled portable speakers from her pack, and we danced to Ludacris, and sang with Adele as we traversed the entire island.
in short…. we took what could easily have been a daunting and overwhelming challenge….. and turned into a source of fun and strength. the near 15 miles we hiked together over the weekend, proved to be some of the most joyful memories of the trip, as we got to know each other without the confines of walls or the distractions of iPhones and iPads. we even enjoyed some quality time with our puppet mascotst: Pablo y Escobar…
and though our legs burned and our feet ached, we truly engaged with each other, and connected on a deeply profound level… all the while laughing, and joking, and sharing, and even busting out a few hip-hop dance moves. we witnessed breath-taking scenery, and appreciated each pocket of shade, and every cool breeze that blew our way. the little things…. became BIG things. and none went un-valued.
once again….. i was reminded that every day, there is an opportunity to practice the lessons we learn on the mat. ”being present” ”enjoying the journey” “entering the fire and emerging purified”. so…. a simple camping trip, becomes an epic ‘yoga’ adventure!
and there was another lesson in here as well. by the time we arrived at the beach oasis where we set up camp & swam, and napped in the sun, (and devoured marshmallow s’mores)…. we enjoyed and appreciated this blissful tranquility SO much more…. because we had to WORK for it. and i began to realize….. how true this is. would we really fully appreciate LOVE, if we didn’t have to struggle through so many difficult relationships along the way? or great careers, if we didn’t have to tough out the mind-numbing ‘money jobs’? i think….. the struggles, failures, and disappointments along the hiking trail of LIFE…. are exactly what make the ultimate rewards…… so. damn. sweet.