Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Be Still

One of my favorite activities is to spend time in southern Utah with my family camping, Jeeping, hiking, or rafting. One of my other favorite activities is to study from and grow my library of personal development and business books. Recently I found a book entitled, “The Wisdom of Wilderness” by Gerald G. May. The author recounts many of the lessons learned while camping alone.

That got me thinking. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been camping alone, if ever. So I decided to give it a shot. I told my family I was going to go to Moab to do some camping, but this time I was going alone.

So I packed the Jeep and headed to Moab for a long fall weekend. When I arrived in Moab I bought a couple of bundles of wood in case the evenings got cold, made sure I had a full tank of gas, and called my wife to let her know the general area I planned to go and promised to call after two days since I would be out of cell phone coverage until I was back in Moab.

I picked a camping area about 20 miles from the nearest paved road at the base of the La Sal Mountains in a valley seldom visited by most people exploring around Moab. During the two days I spent there I never heard another vehicle or saw another person. The only noise was the noise I made or what nature created.

I learned some very interesting lessons in my exceptionally quiet time alone. I’ll share a couple of them here.

I was actually quite surprised how hard it was to get used to the silence. It took me almost a full 24 hours just to settle down and be comfortable in all that silence and stillness. I love the tranquility of the desert southwest, but rarely take the time to be still and just think for long periods of time.

After finally settling down I pulled out a tote full of books and began to browse through whatever caught my interest. I eventually started thinking about goal setting and personal achievement.

As I considered the value of setting goals I also thought about an idea I had been considering regarding the potential “let down” once a goal is achieved. Of course it makes sense to make sure we always set additional goals to avoid any kind of let down.

The challenge I was considering was the feeling of never being able to “arrive” since we always have additional goals identified and ready to pursue. As I thought about that idea, here’s what came to mind in the quiet of that valley far away from anyone else. I wrote the following in my notebook:

“Life is best lived in the gap—the gap between your plans and dreams and their ultimate achievement. There is joy in the journey.”

I realized that I can be at peace with living in-between my accomplishments and additional goals, as long as I’m continually moving forward and improving. And because I’m okay with living in “the gap” I can acknowledge each success and lessons learned from each mistake and have joy in this journey we call life.

Would I have come to that realization if I had never decided to go alone into the stillness of the desert? I don’t know. Was it worth going anyway? Absolutely! Learning to be still and living in the gap were just two of many lessons learned while on this particular adventure.

The question for you is when will you take your opportunities to be still and contemplate what matters most in your life? In today’s world of multiple sources of media bombardment, quiet time must be planned or it just won’t happen. You don’t have to go off into the middle of nowhere, but occasionally total silence from man-made noise can be very beneficial.

(C) DTE Consulting “Helping you Do The Extraordinary!”

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