Monday, March 15, 2010

Life is Wonderful


What a weekend! These past couple days were some of the best I’ve had in this country. Sabbath was amazing. I got to sleep in and then we had a little house church in Yelena’s apartment. We just sang praises, studied the Bible, conversed about God, and ate lunch as we fellowshipped together. It was refreshing. After church we got suited-up to go to a Russian theater. One of students arranged tickets for us all to go to see Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” It was a good play, the only thing was we couldn’t understand anything. My student translated and printed out a script so I was able to get familiar with the play before we saw it. Still, it was fun to make up the script in our heads as they dramatically acted it out on stage. It was quite an experience.

Sunday, I woke up at 7:30am. I think that is the earliest I have ever woken up in this country. We ventured on the bus, met the girls, and headed up to the mountains. We went a different mountain this time, a mountain that I hadn’t been to. It was so fun! We hiked up a road, and then found a mountain we wanted to climb, so we went off the trail and hiked straight up this mountain which was half covered with snow and half covered with winter-ridden, thorn-covered bushes. After about 4 hours of hiking we reached the top (well...near enough the top) and we had a picnic. After stuffing ourselves we walked along a ridge and found a snowy place to slide down. We slid on our butts, on our backpacks, on our coats, on our stomachs down steep slopes. Sliding on our stomachs was the best. We coined it “Penguin Sliding” and I am convinced they should turn it into an Olympic sport. We occasionally crashed into some bushes, collided with rocks, dodged trees, and fell off some large embankments. By the time we made it down from the mountain we were all soaking wet, sore and bruised, cut up, but smiling uncontrollably from the craziness and the great fun we all had. It is a day that I will never forget.

I was thinking about life, about all the fun and adventures we have. We often do dangerous, painful things in the name of fun, and would have it no other way. I think of skydiving, paintballing, butt-sledding, and everything else. We read about adventures where people live off the land—eating birds and wild berries. We never think about the process it takes to kill and skin an animal as well as prepare it and we never think about all the sicknesses they go through eating poisonous berries. Good stories and good memories are made by pain, by threatening situations. Even though this mountain adventure is now just a memory, it is a good memory, an exciting part of my story. I want my story to be full of excitement.

So as we were climbing this mountain, virtually going straight up, the mountain seemed to never end. We all got to the point where we were just tired and hiking was losing its fun. We seemed to go and go and go, but only look up and down to what looked like the same view as before. We all cried that this mountain was never going to end. I made a quick parallel about life at this moment. I realized that many people look at life as a mountain—something to be conquered. However, life is a mountain that can never be conquered. People are so focused at getting to the top that they don’t enjoy their hike. When they finally get to the top is when life finally leaves them and at this point, there is nothing more to enjoy—your lifeless body will rot in a grave. It reminds me of the famous quote, “Success is a journey, not a destination” only this applies to more than just success, it applies to life in general. Stop trying to reach certain destinations and accomplish certain goals—just live! While goals are good and ambitions are necessary, the importance of living surpasses them all. Enjoy your hike, don’t worry about the top. Enjoy the view from where you are, but never stop climbing. One day it will all make sense, but today is probably not that day. One of my many mottos is “less doing, more being.” Just be.

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