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by Brian Leshley
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Pour out your passion today. The sunlight and the evening stars all work with passion. You view them with passion and enjoyment. A sunset creates passion without effort.

Passion is a feeling; a kind of love.

Shine with the light within you today. Your light is so bright we can not look upon it directly. Shine today. The mountain does not think, “I will be the tallest or grandest…” No the mountain has no ego, no desire to be more than it is. And it is grand and tall, majestic and unmovable without effort, it just is.

Are we like the mountain, majestic in our being and letting go of the need to be better, greater, richer and smarter than others? Keep in mind that mountains are not climbed in a day…Mount Everest takes many weeks and at one point the climbers are required to actual descend before they reach the top. It is a dangerous trek and not lightly taken at all. One must have strength, not only physically, but mentally as well. And this can not be done alone…every expedition has a group of planners, trainers and climbers. Note each of these are plural—we all need support.

The amount of time it takes to climb a mountain, or reach a goal, can be frustratingly slow at times. In the middle of it all are some well deserved successes, reaching a new campsite, waking in the morning and realizing that after it all you are still alive. Mostly success comes when we do not even realize it, working closely with the details, closely with our craft. Only when we step back and look at the whole do we realize we are making progress.

When stuck in the muck and mire, seeming to move very slowly, it is important to recognize that we are moving forward. Adding upon what we know and improving, even in small details. This is our life.

Planning is important. However, knowing the basic result desired is infinitely more important. We can not begin a journey and say we will get there when we know it. We must have a basic idea of where we are going; a direction. Without a target we are shooting in the dark, never knowing if our shots make the mark. At this point we are wasting our time and energy. We must know what we want. How do we find out what we want?

An outline is not set in stone. The outline is a moving living thing. We must be flexible in our journey. Flexible to adjust when something unexpected happens; when plans go astray. Infinitely important as well is the ability to recognize when we are off the path; when we have been distracted or have gone complacent. Getting comfortable is a crippling to discovery. Once we have reached one summit, we must find another summit to climb. We must have another challenge, for it by this struggle that we become stronger.
Muscles are strengthened through resistance training. Weights are designed to be heavy and difficult to lift, if they are easy to lift then no muscle is developed, thus no progress happens. We are infinitely imperfect beings. We can never be perfect until we die. If we were to become perfect we would have no reason to live, passion would disintegrate from our lives completely and the will to live would dissipate. We must have struggle. We must have a goal just outside our reach.

To reach the top of the world, many years of planning are in the following stages:

1. The dream—a vision.
2. Gathering support, mutual peers with the same vision and funding of the project.
3. Mapping and planning.
4. Training--physical and mental—This is a constant aspect.
5. Travel and rest—plateaus and patience are necessary.
6. Slow, choreographed movements up the mountain—each step is accounted for.
7. Watch out for avalanches and other setbacks along the way—again patience and faith are needed.
8. Never lose sight of the goal—the summit is now within your reach.
9. Final steps and the goal is attained.
10. Now a timely and safe descent—usually more dangerous and full of despair than the climb up.
11. Final resting.
12. A new goal…The journey resumes, this is not all that exists…we must find a new reason to move forward.

First and foremost a goal is necessary. A direction to move and an outline of steps along the way; a map if you will. The signs of the journey are easily recognized if careful planning is put into place. I have heard the ratio of planning is two to one. Two hours of practice for one hour of application. For a 30-minute presentation, one hour of preparation is needed. If we are not willing to put this time in then the level of success is diminished. It is better to not be involved if we can not commit to this level. Do not waste the time of those who have real passion—an expedition of this magnitude must have mutually willing partners along the way. A negative attitude will sabotage the entire journey and the setbacks are, again, crippling.

Yes, worry, doubt and anxiety are parts of the journey. If they did not exist then the journey is not going the right direction. True passion expects these partners as well. Strengthen your mind for this assault through daily cleansing of the mind and soul.

Disruption and distraction are essential ingredients to reaching any true goal. Whispers in the mind telling you it can’t be done or it is too hard. Ideas in the mind creating doubt of the achievement. This is the mental resistance that strengthens the muscles of the mind. Can you stand the pressure? The mental is much more difficult then the physical and this is the area that usually can create defeat, in the end—we give up hope and this is demise is in the mind and heart.

Peace of mind clears the way forward. Faith comes in many forms—a sunset or sunrise gives hope of a new day. A gentle breeze or rambling brooks are reminders of God’s country and a hope of spring, knowing the seasons move forward with effort. As a people we can not change the weather or seasons—we can not with any true accuracy predict the storm, much less stop it—when the storm comes we are told to take shelter and wait it out. We can not do more than endure…our goal now basic survival.

Once the storm is over we are reminded of our mortality. A disconcerting feeling of the need to rebuild is now in our gut—we now have to start from a place where we were already. To cover ground we through which we have already moved. General set backs are a necessary part of the journey. Through setbacks we must persevere always. Upon planning the goal are we willing to accept the struggles and setback—this is a needed part of planning. Ask at the beginning, “Is this worth every possible setback and struggle along the way?” If a shadow of doubt appears then explore and examine—Do you really want to succeed? Is this really your passion?

During the journey we are usually more miserable than anything. We are frustrated at failed results, knowing we are almost there. We are one step away, we must have faith.

As we get closer progress actually slows down, moving at a snails pace. Short spurts between anguishing pushes forward. Pain and suffering happen here. Most will give up not knowing how close they actually came to the accomplishment…tragic end at the last corner, one true step from glory. This is where training and discipline are necessary parts of the whole. Train your mind, calm the voices inside and keep your heart steady. In the end all of this is worth it!

Become an unattached observer of the events unfolding around you. Realize that everything that is now happening is necessary to reach the goal. Every struggle is moving you closer to your goal, with the illusion of barriers and moving away. Gather strength and watch the signs along the way.

A whisper is more powerful than shouting. A whisper is disciplined and patient. A whisper must be spoken from a place of peace, with thought and direction. A whisper is well crafted to be specific. Listen for the whispers—nudges and gentle breezes will move you closer to your goal than strong gusts and unorganized gales. Gusts and gales are unorganized and usually send you sailing in the wrong direction. No thought is presented in a storm. The result is simply destruction and aftermath, usually a setback of cleaning and apology—we are usually farther behind from these outbursts than when we started.

Relax your grip today. Experience feelings and emotions—simply observe them as they are. Explore how your body reacts to stimulus from outside. Let go of your grip on things that are not important. The grip to the shoreline is holding you from the riptide of life—the center of the river is alive and exhilarating, the shoreline will eventually erode and you are in the end left holding nothing. On the shore we long for the open waters in the center of the river—the open waters of the great ocean. Fear and trepidation hold us back. The real tragedy is that there is nothing to fear. When we move from the shore we learn and grow. We strengthen our ability to sail. Fear comes and goes, never a lasting storm in our hearts. Confidence grows with each passing day; with the experience of survival we can stand taller.

Ending the journey, on our deathbed, we must be able to look back and state we are satisfied with our life—for it is the journey, not the destination that counts. Memories are more than a gift.

The most tragic phrase at the end of it all is “I realize now that I have wasted my life…”

The end is too late to make a difference. Begin now. The best way to make a difference today is to let go of the shore and take a chance. Take calculated risks. By calculated I mean risks that a more likely, through careful analysis, to move you closer to your goal if the are pulled off, and at the same time will not set you back too far if they fail.

Bio: Brian has written his poetry book, Poetry for Browsing, a collection of poems. The book may be purchased at www.publishamerica.net.

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