“Each and every master, regardless of the era or place, heard the call and attained harmony with heaven and earth. There are many paths leading to the top of Mt. Fuji, but there is only one summit – love.” Morihei Ueshiba
What is the pinnacle of your success? How do you know when you have reached the summit of your journey? Was it what you expected it to be?
Last weekend, a friend and I drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the autumn colors at their peak. With trees covering the roadway much of the way, we traveled through a tunnel that at times glowed with the yellow of tulip poplar and the bronze of beech. At another turn in the road, the light was transformed by the red of maples and sourwood. Like crystal sparkling, the light played through leaves and branches luring us into another world inhabited only by nature.
Our Expectations May Lead to Disappointment
We were seduced by its beauty into believing that, at our destination, the colors would be at perfect peak. When we arrived at Craggy Gardens, the mountains were, for the most part, a lovely array of the usual red, orange, and yellow that we expected, but not as intense as I had seen them in the past, and on some hillsides the trees were already stripped of their leaves. It was beautiful—just not as brilliant as I had hoped. I was disappointed.
We hiked up the side of the mountain to 5,500 feet to a bald, a treeless area at the summit where there is only low-growing vegetation. At other times of the year, blueberries and rhododendron grow there, but at this time of year there is little colorful vegetation and the grass is mostly brown; however if one looked beyond what was in the immediate foreground, a beautiful and breath-taking vista opened.
A Higher Perspective May Open Our Minds to the Beauty of Life
The sky was clear and intensely blue with wisps of cirrus clouds streaming over the mountains. Meandering streams and roadways danced through the hills, creating a patch work of light, shadow and color. Beyond the bald, where most of nature was sleeping, we looked out on a vibrant world. When we focused on the broader perspective from this higher place, we saw beauty, not desolation, and above our heads, silhouetted against the blue sky, were the bright red berries of a mountain ash.
In life, as in nature, we experience the beautiful with the mundane or disappointing. Even when we reach the summit of our careers and live out our greatest dreams, they may not be what we expected. In my twenties I thought that my life would be perfect if I could only dance with a modern dance company. I felt I had reached the pinnacle of my success when, finally, that dream came true.
It was a beautiful and inspiring experience, but I experienced a great deal of physical pain and had far more stage fright than I’d ever had acting. The physical aspect of performing was a great disappointment, but from a spiritual and higher perspective, it was very rewarding. At times, dancing was transcendent, and as I taught and choreographed more, I realized it was not the performing I loved most—it was the teaching and making dances.
With time, I became more whole and able to see how the mind and body interacted. This broadened what I could teach others and helped me to improve my health. When I let go of my ego’s need to be a performer, I was able to see the value of dance from a higher perspective.
Nature May Remind Us That We Are All One
When my friend and I were hiking, we also went to Craggy Pinnacle, the highest spot in the area where we could see those magnificent mountains from a 360 degree view. There was something about standing in such place that allowed all expectations and focus on self to drop away. We were one with the world that surrounded us. From that place, there were no piles of trash or run down houses or torn up roadways or contentious neighbors. All the details blended with the beauty of nature.
In those moments at the top of the mountain, I forgot about the hillsides that were bare or that the red leaves weren’t as red this year as before. I forgot about the aching toe I’d stubbed on the way up or the hours of raking leaves ahead of me as the leaves blanketed my yard. I no longer mattered, for I was not separate from the beauty around me.
Love Opens Us to the Dance of Life
When we can view life from the summit, from a spiritual perspective, we are able to see the wholeness of a situation and love what is there. While my pursuit of dance was originally very ego based, as my mind opened, it became not only a spiritually-enlivening experience, but one that led me to share insights with others so that they could be helped by what I had learned. Reaching the pinnacle was really only the beginning of a life-long journey of learning to love my whole self and others and to discover there is so much more to the dance of life.
If you want to learn more about my journey, my memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness is available at Amazon and Create Space.
Have you reached the pinnacle in some area of your life? What did you learn from it? Please share your thoughts.
© 2013 Georganne Spruce ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5