“I want to be a mountain” she said.
“You want to be a mountain?” I laughed.
Day light in winter is short and precious. We’d chosen to spend today’s light ration hiking the two main summits of An Teallach.
An Teallach is one of Scotland’s most famous mountains – a complex sandstone massif with a pinnacle ridge.
We’d hiked in mist and when it lifted by the ridge we looked on in wonder. It was like we’d climbed through a portal to a new world of beauty. A beauty so dramatic that words don’t scratch the surface of its depths.
Now we’re sitting on a rock, just a kilometre or so from the car. It was freezing on the hill with snow underfoot and we’d felt too cold to eat on the hill. Here we are out of the wind, scarfing down homemade tuna and sweetcorn wraps with hungry pleasure.
“Why?” I asked.
Her reply: “I want to be strong and firm, unmoving in who I am”.
Lindsay and I sit in our fleshy ‘non mountain-ness’ on the cusp of the most materialistic season of our year.
And I wonder, what would this Mountain think if she could see us Non Mountains in our winter habitat.
I imagine to her we look as crazed ants…
- Well-groomed ants, all dressed up on a night out.
- Or ‘at home’ ants numbing out on turkey dinners, prosecco and Family Sized boxes of Roses.
- Ants struggling to move under the burden of shopping bags.
- Ant’s like me, scrolling and shopping online – receiving bulky Amazon Deliveries.
- Busy ants with “to do” lists as long as Loch Broom.
- Tired ants with over loaded nervous system watching ‘just one more’ of that Netflix series.
- Lonely Ants who crave rest and connection but don’t know where to find it.
I can see her now, this Mountain – Sgurr Fiona – looking on, not with judgement but with a sad bewilderment.
If I silence my mind I can just catch her words through the NOISE of ‘ant world’. She kindly calls now through the wind and I hear what sounds like Hafiz’s ancient poem:
Then stay with me, for I am not.”
Selfishly I’m glad my friend Lindsay isn’t a mountain.
But mountains are alive.
All of nature is alive.
And in this season, we often numb and remove ourselves from that which makes us alive.
Winter can feel cold, cruel and uninviting but when we find the courage to swaddle up in layers, step outside and get our hearts pumping good things always happen.
Your health or mobility may limit you from getting your heart rate too high and your locality may make it difficult for you to visit mountains regularly. But just stepping outside and noticing outdoor beauty in any form is one of the simplest and kindest things you can do for yourself this winter season.
Nature runs on a different frequency to much of modern life. This energy can calm our nervous system. It can recalibrate us. It can bring us back to our self.
Seeing life from a Mountain’s perspective can bring a about a helpful shift. Increasingly a perspective that I try and view my life from.
Living an outdoor life has gone from being an occasional pass time to becoming a fundamental part of who I am.
There are times when I feel cold, bored and frustrated and I wonder why I’m out.
But these moments are outweighed 100 fold by the wonder, the joy and the centering that being outdoors in nature gives me. Like a mountain – I feel stronger and firmer and less wobbly in who I am.
If you are feeling tired, fractured or smothered by the season why not become like a mountain. Slow your pace, lean into its solidity and listen:
Then stay with me, for I am not.” (Hafiz).
Thank you so much for reading.
** If you are reading this in 2018 (when it was published) I’ve a plan to make my message more ‘actionable’. I’m going to be posting daily outdoor photographs on my Instagram and Facebook through out December using the hashtag #Decemberbeauty .
Why not join me and challenge yourself to get outdoors and notice beauty each of the 31 days of December? (It could just be 5 minutes outside your door!). You can share using the same hashtag, or message me and tell me – or keep it private for you!
Or if you’d like to retreat with me and Lindsay to connect with mind, body and nature to get Unstuck find out more about our 2019 retreat here.