It's not the mountains ahead that wear you out. It's the pebble in your shoe.
Or perhaps the grain of sand.
California’s Central Coast offers a vast beauty, not the least of which is mild winters. This affords me the privilege of abundant time outdoors, hiking, biking, exercising in sunshine against the coast. Sea air and striding walks with a mentor coach have been one of the better things to come out of pandemic minimal movement these last few years.
After a cup of coffee and a light bite, Coach and I took off from the beachside cafe to put in a good 50 minutes along the coastal trail. Conversation never ceases until we are sharing good-byes. Coach’s dynamism and determination over a lengthy career, and her willingness to embrace my path of motherhood and community, offer us extended, worthy exchanges on topic after topic.
This day, we were well on our way, when I felt an annoyance in my stride. A small piece of something or other was pressing against my instep. I leaned on the nearest tree, untied my shoe, gave it a shake out, retied, and off we went; chit chatting back and forth. Not twenty steps later, I realized the bugger was still there. Well, just dang it.
Unwilling to disrupt the flow, unwilling to appear like a woman incapable of removing a rock from her shoe for Pete’s sake, I made the decision to keep walking, wiggling my foot with each lift, attempting to move the unwelcome nuisance. Unsuccessful, I chose to live with it, focusing my attention on what Coach was sharing; my possible response. Power of distraction, just dealing. Telling myself, “I got this.” Using it as some sort of challenge to my mental discipline. I decided to live with it.
Like so many of us do. All the time. Every day. In small ways. In large measures. Just dealing with the little frustrations that buzz in our face or press on our instep. Being stubborn, willful.
Arriving back to the parking lot, offering elbow bumps and plans for the next meet up, I watched Coach pull away. I removed my shoe and got a look at what had been pestering. There she was, just a little bit of a rock, kinda smushed into the foam of my cross trainer. High tech cushy instep material had secured her place, no matter how efficiently I attempted a wiggle shift. I chuckled.
I chuckled at the way she was imbedded. I also chuckled at myself.
Not the mountains ahead, but the pebble in our shoe. This is what wears us down.
I can’t be sure whether pride, embarrassment, or mental challenge kept me from stopping a second time to remove the pebble. I can be sure I immediately viewed this as a metaphor for many things we decide to do in the course of our every day. We live with the pebbles in our shoes.
We know they are there. We try to remove them. We choose to leave them.
We deal with the impact they have on our stride.
Once removed, we celebrate the impact on our comfort level moving forward… a challenge overcome, or a weight lifted.
We decide. We choose.
Remove the rock, or own its presence.
I suppose that might depend on the size of the mountain ahead.