Peaks N’ Valleys

“Sometimes you’re on top of the world.  Stay humble.

Sometimes you’ve hit a low.  Stay hopeful.”

 

 

I hadn’t heard much about Lokai until Emaan Sourjah gifted me this seemingly simple bracelet for my 35th birthday this year.

The piece contains water from Mount Everest, the highest point on earth, as well as mud from the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.  It’s a daily reminder of balance, of the reality that life has ups and downs, and that sometimes we lose focus and lose hope.  When we’re way up, we need to focus on what’s truly important.  And when we’re way down, we need perspective.

Pretty awesome concept I must say.  Wish I would have thought of it!

Anyway, after Christmas, New Year’s, a milestone birthday, time during Spring Break to reflect, and with Easter coming up, I thought I’d share some thoughts with y’all.

Yes, I just said ‘y’all.’  A native Texan once told me that three years is good for that license : ).

As I reflect, I recall being to both places – the peak & the valley – several times over.  A few things learned that I’d like to share:

(1) Everything in life is significant.  It all has deep meaning.  Every single encounter with a fellow human being, in a mysterious way, holds more eternal significance than we’ll ever know.  I read a book several years ago called “The Five People You Meet In Heaven.”  In it, author Mitch Albom tells a story about a war veteran & maintenance worker named Eddie.  When Eddie dies, he goes to heaven.  In heaven, he meets five people; a few he knew very well while on earth and a few he barely remembered.  Each person gives Eddie a ‘tour’ of some of the most difficult moments of his life, revealing what was really happening behind the scenes.  Eddie has his most difficult questions answered, he learns some valuable lessons, and he’s able to see things from a different, unveiled, perspective.  The book is wild, I highly recommend it.

(2) All of us are in a relationship.  Relationships shape our lives and our world; long-lasting ones and those that last but a split second.  Everything we do and don’t do – or say and don’t say – has this far-reaching ripple effect.  You never know what one smile or friendly comment can do for someone else.  Every action, every word, can literally change lives.  And those lives go on to change other lives.  And it goes on and on until the ripple reaches countless souls.

(3) Suffering is inevitable, but it ends.  Sometimes when we’ve hit that low, it’s hard to believe that it will come to an end.  It’s hard to believe we can recapture happiness.  But suffering does end.  And it comes back again.  And it ends again.  We mustn’t forget that our dip in the Dead Sea is followed by the ascent to the Mountain.

(4) We learn more from the valley than from the peak.  Some of the most valuable lessons learned come during periods of suffering.  The saying ‘what doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger’ has become super cliché.  But, if faced with a humble, resilient, hopeful disposition, it’s true.  Think of the most inspiring person you know.  I’m willing to bet that it’s someone who is well acquainted with heavy crosses.

(5) Freedom begins when we stop caring what other people think.  Certainly prudence here is important, however, always remember that other people’s’ expectations can cripple us.  Letting go of these expectations can free us.

(6) True love sometimes hurts.  Living selflessly yields a much more abundant life than living selfishly.  Love doesn’t always feel good.  Sometimes it hurts because it demands a sacrifice; love sometimes requires us to deny our own comfort or convenience for the good of the other.  But it’s well worth the risk.

(7) Work is a gift.  It’s not always roses, but having a job is more an opportunity than a problem.  Let’s treat work with the dignity it deserves.  If you’re not happy in your line of work, make plans to start something new.  But ‘don’t quit your day job’ too soon.  Remain in the moment, work hard, and give it your all no matter where you’re at.

(8) Empathy is the beginning of understanding.  Through my line of work, I’ve definitely discovered that things aren’t always as they seem.  People who appear to have it all together don’t, and, people who appear to be a mess can have tons of wisdom.  Every single person is fighting a battle.  When I think of the times I’m annoyed or angry at someone, it’s usually because of something that’s going on with me; it’s usually because of some battle I’m fighting.  I believe that, when dealing with difficult people, it’s key to place ourselves in his/her shoes.  Empathy is the beginning of resolving conflict and of understanding the other person.

(9) Faith is real.  It can literally save lives; I’ve seen it.  Yes, religion is far-too-often used for discrimination and even violence.  However, a humble, authentic faith only pushes us forward; it raises us to higher ground and brings healing to an incredibly wounded world.

(10) Discerned risks are worth taking.  Our comfort zones can be, ironically, the most dangerous places on earth.  I’ve taken some good risks and some not-so-good ones.  But the risks that are well-discerned always provide solid learning and growing opportunities.

So yeah, this is a lot from a simple bracelet.  But it’s also coming from personal reflections on 35 years of messing up, starting over, striving to walk with empathy, and seeking wisdom from friends, family, mentors, complete strangers, and lived experience.

My New Year’s resolution was to be more present to people and to offer a listening ear when a listening ear is what’s needed.  I’ve become super busy, too busy, the last couple years and have lost touch with many friends made along the way.  But this year, I’m clearing my calendar for what’s truly important.  Trying anyway!

If you ever need someone to talk to, hit me up.

Some exciting things coming up in 2018 and beyond : ).

Cheers N’ Peace.

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