Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Ability to Break Through Our Ceiling

The oppressive grey fog that has blanketed us this week could be seen as a metaphor. There are times in life when we can't see a path upwards, when our goals feel obscured, we feel boxed in, pushed down, unable to move. All too often though, the grey matter that stands between us and our visions and dreams is quite literally all in our heads. So how do we find a way to break through, up and out to the sunny vistas that we desire for our life?

A run this weekend with my hubby gave me pause to think about how firmly we see our barriers above us, and how yet they are often the thinnest of layers, easily broken through with a little effort.

We started out in the grayest of gray cloud banks, the forest air literally dense with frozen water. In places, the trail was a skating rink of black ice, in other areas it was blanketed in fallen ice crystals from the trees above. But as we steadily worked our way up the ridgeline, the thick mist began to lighten, then to positively glow with a lovely pastel radiance. The air around us became luminous and the snow reflected the pale light so the ground beneath our feet felt like it was glowing.

All of a sudden above us through the trees, beams of golden light shot out through the mist. Although we hadn't planned on it, I knew we needed to take a detour from the trail and head upwards to the top of the butte. Hubby was not so convinced. The trail was treacherous, and as it got steeper it became increasingly impossible to navigate. But I knew that where there were sunbeams, there must be sun, so up up we went.
Sure enough, once we arrived at the top, we could see that we had broken through the layer of grey and were now on top of an ocean of clouds stretching in all directions across the valley below. What had once seemed like an impenetrable ceiling was now beneath us. Although the frigid air below had chilled us to the bitter bone, we stripped down to t-shirts at the top and basked in the warmth like lizards. Sadly, we were on a timeline, so we had only a few short minutes to enjoy the top. I inhaled deeply, taking in the defrosting earth, the unmistakable smell of green growing things, warm dirt. All the way down into the fogline, I sounded like a yoga practitioner gone bonkers, trying to savor those smells before they were frozen into so many impenetrable crystals.

So, when the grey closes in around you, and the walls above feel too thick, what gets you to break through? For me, it's often my training. It might not feel like it at the time, but every time you push your boundaries, you  in turn become less bounded. When you know that your limits are malleable, you can make yourself work all the harder to move them back.

Even on this run, the fact that we had run before, run many winding trails up and down the ridgeline, enabled us to decide on the spur of the moment to run up the mountain. Running up a mountain is not something everyone can do. Most folks would be gasping and wheezing after a minute or two of such effort. So our prior hard work paid off in allowing us this moment of freedom above the clouds.

When relatives, co-workers, or friends express doubt or dismay over your training, it's nice to remember that there are these wonderful times when it pays off in spades. When the grey ceiling that everyone thinks is immovable can actually be broken. By you.

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