Many of us have been to the mountain top.
We know how we feel when we are open, loving, in touch with ourselves and accessing our own wisdom. Petty little things don’t get to us. Our love and patience are bigger than our fears. We find humor in being human.
Why don’t we stay on the mountain top—or at least return there frequently?
I recently received an email from a woman I’ve been corresponding with. She started out by saying that she wasn’t sure what she wanted in her life, she was rather self-critical and seemed uninspired. But then after we exchanged a few more emails she remembered and wrote about a time in her life when, “I saw how to be— perhaps it was more than seeing—I was actually being how I wanted to be, but then I veered off course.”
Why do we veer off course?
She went on to say, “Having had a taste of it, I should know how to get there again. I want to live fully engaged, no holding back, aware of all aspects of myself and choosing what to manifest and how to express.”
I’m going to translate the previous sentence that she wrote into Live Conscious. See if you notice a difference in how you feel when you read one and then read the other.
“Having had a taste of myself, I should know how to get back to myself again. I want to live fully engaged, no holding myself back, aware of all aspects of myself and choosing what to manifest and how to express myself.”
This woman goes on to say, ” I feel a little lazy or helpless in that I seem to struggle with how to perpetuate better ways of being even after experiencing myself this way. It feels as if I crave the company of those whose lives exemplify this way of being, to have their behavior accessible for reference, to model myself from their example.”
She asked, “Is this one of the benefits of your retreats? Seeing it happen for others helps shape one’s understanding and bolsters their resolve.”
Yes, this is exactly the benefit of our retreats. They are an invitation to fully engage, stop holding ourselves back, and become aware of all aspects our ourselves so that we can choose what we want to manifest and how we want to express ourselves. And being around other people who share this intention—even if they don’t know how to do it—helps each of us find our way.
Yet, even some of the people who come to our retreats end up veering off course, so I come back again to my question, why do we veer off course?
Why, when we have tasted our delicious selves as we wish to be, why do we then settle for gruel? After I have experience my own generosity why do I revert to stinginess? After I experience my wisdom why do I dumb myself? After I experience my own maturity why do I tolerate my immaturity? After I have felt the joy of loving, why do I withhold my love? After I have been true to self why do I abandon myself?
I believe that there are three reasons why I veer off course:
1. Effort—in the short term, it takes more effort to engage in life than to disengage.
2. Fear—”Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” Marianne Williamson
3. Loneliness—There are fewer people on the mountain top. And those who are there have higher expectations of themselves and others.
Yes, these are the three reasons I’m aware of. Let’s explore each one:
Effort—in the short run it does take more effort to be mature, to be disciplined, to live with intention and to turn toward our partners instead of away from them in times of tension. But, if I expand my time horizon—and behave today so that I will feel good about myself tomorrow—my life is remarkably easier because of the effort I expend today.
Fear—I love this Marianne Williamson quote and there is another one, less well known, but equally profound. It comes from Scott Peck’s book, The Road Less Traveled. He too was exploring the question of why we veer off course. He asked, “Why do we resist grace?” And what follows is his answer, which references St. Augustine’s Maxim:
“If you are loving and diligent you may do whatever you want.”
“But for most people the fear that they might abuse the power is not the central issue in their resistance to grace. It is not the “Do what you want” part of St. Augustine’s Maxim that causes them indigestion but the “Be diligent” part. Most of us are like children or young adolescents; we believe that the freedom and power of adulthood is our due, but we have little taste for adult responsibility and self discipline. Much as we feel oppressed by our parents—or by society or fate—we actually seem to need to have powers above us to blame for our condition. To rise to a position of such power that we have no one to blame except ourselves is a fearful state of affairs. As has already been mentioned, were it not for God’s presence with us in that exalted position, we would be terrified by our aloneness. Still, many have so little capacity to tolerate the aloneness of power that they reject God’s presence rather than experience themselves as the sole master of their ship. Most people want peace without the aloneness of power. And they want the self-confidence of adulthood without having to grow up.”
Loneliness—Scott Peck writes beautifully about aloneness. He suggests that living fully in our power, or with grace, does result in aloneness. And that the only comfort is God’s presence in our lives (I read “God’s presence” to mean a spiritual connection).
I want to suggest that aloneness—or actually our comfort with aloneness—is a prerequisite to living in grace, or returning to our mountain top. As long as I fear aloneness, I will lazy myself, distract myself and compromise myself. These are all ways in which I avoid my existential aloneness.
So, to summarize, I veer off course because I don’t expend the energy in the short-term to stay on the mountain top. I veer off course because I fear my own power, my own light, and the immense responsibility that accompanies me. I veer off course to avoid aloneness.
Our Live Conscious community extends an invitation to all people—male or female, looking or lost, graceful or wasteful, knowing or naught, strong or scrawny, boastful or bashful—to find, explore and live on your mountain top.