Thursday, July 21, 2011

Between the fog and a grey place...and the challenges of "re-entry".

A narrow band of clarity, from the top of Mt. Tzouhalem this morning.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. 
It turns what we have into enough, and more. 
It turns denial into acceptance,
 chaos to order, confusion to clarity. 
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, 
a stranger into a friend. 
Gratitude makes sense of our past, 
brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."*

OK, I've been advised (in fairly clear terms) to get over all this "smitten with the country of my birth" stuff and get back to writing about paddling and running and being back on Vancouver Island. Well, um maybe, at least I'll try...after this posting.

It's interesting that forty-two years ago today, the Eagle landed - on the moon. It was the first such landing. One of the critical issues for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin was to ensure that the angle of their approach to the moon was just right. If the angle was too sharp, they would augur in. If it was too shallow, they would land "long" or perhaps even bounce off the atmosphere back into space. Their subsequent re-entry back home into the denser atmosphere of Earth, would require even more attention to detail. I too, albeit infinitely less critical, dramatic, or newsworthy, seem to be dealing with similar challenges related to "re-entry" after being away.

Now that we're back in Canada, our early morning run around Forfar Loch, in Scotland, has transitioned back to time on the familiar trails of Mt. Tzouhalem, next to where we live. A couple of days ago, one element of the run remained much the same - the rain and grey skies! Returning to the trail-head parking lot, rather wet, muddy, and resembling a couple of bespectacled river rats, we might have brought a smile to the faces of any observers - had there been any there, that is. The rain pounded down, the forest streams flowed, and the mud and grit attached itself to our bare legs and our recently laundered running gear!

Somewhere below the fog bank, lies the waters of Cowichan Bay.
Although the rain has now ceased, this morning we arrived at the mid-point of our run, the "Cross" on Mt. Tzouhalem, and experienced a narrow band of visibility - between the surface fog and the overcast The "fog and the grey place" was partly to do with the weather. The sky was obscured by a thick overcast. Below us, a fog bank blanketed the usual view of Cowichan Bay, the Saanich Peninsula, and beyond to the peaks of the Olympic Mountains. The "fog and the grey place", however, also had to do with some challenges related to "re-entry".

The last six weeks have been deeply meaningful, instructive, and emotion-filled in many ways. It was an adventure, a time of spiritual challenge, a learning experience, a context for connection with special people, both back home, and abroad. For most of us, "transitioning" back from such experiences is rarely without the need for care and attention to the process of "re-entry".

Think about the last time you had a really excellent holiday, or an inspiring episode of continuing education, or an epic outdoor adventure, or a close and meaningful encounter with family or friends. It felt good didn't it? And you wanted that feeling to last forever. Right? Well, the folks who study human behaviour tell us that these "good vibes" will last about a week, after which, we return to our previous state of mind.

A cool shot out the window of the KLM Fokker 70,
on the Glasgow to Amsterdam leg last week.
There is a way, however, to extend those good vibes - gratitude, just like the quote up above says. Instead of regretting that the experience is over, we need to remain thankful for every minute of that special time. It comes alive again - and stays alive. The "fog", that had begun to gather and obscure the memories, dissipates. The blue sky and clarity of vision returns. The process of "re-entry" into our everyday routines becomes smooth and certain.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. 
It turns what we have into enough, and more."

Gratitude...makes for much happier folks, and a much better "re-entry"!

Having said all that, I'm still tempted to put in an offer on that deserted Highland cottage and become a shepherd. :)


* Quote from M. Beattie.


  1. I love the quote. It is so true and those of us who remained in Duncan,are also thankful for the experience of your exchange but even more thankful to have you both home.

  2. A little mud on the route, the icing on the cake! Nice pic out the window. Bf JJ

  3. Pay no attention to that advise about getting over all that smitten with the country of your birth stuff. It sounds like jealousy to me. I for one am looking forward to hearing more about it.

  4. Oh, no worries, J, I was just having some fun. It was meant affectionately! :)

    Thanks, L, it is an excellent quote! Thanks for stopping by.

    Hey, Bf JJ, yeah, had to roll the window down for that picture - got pretty breezy at 35,000 feet!