I find the early morning, pre-dawn darkness, a most exquisite time. It's a gentle time, perfect for those with a "listening" soul. Rising early, there is a synchronicity with our closest star, the sun...we look forward to greeting one another as the earth turns us towards its shining face.
In the hours before the sun rises, the world is still sleepy, making few demands...we have the gift of time to prepare hearts and minds.
There is a freshness to the air...nature has rested too. Rising early allows us to get our bearings, ground ourselves, and quietly unfurl the wings that will take us through the next precious twenty-four hours. In those quiet, peaceful, and unhurried moments, we have the opportunity to set the "tone" for the day.
Rising late, the world has already begun it's busy, oft frenetic pace. The day's demands confront us, impatiently and with very little grace, even before we have achieved full consciousness. The "carousel" has already begun to spin, requiring us to catch up, hold on...or be spun rudely off. There is a sense of powerlessness. Tone and agendas have already been set by others. The innocence and delicacy of those first waking moments are stirred and blurred. It is no wonder that we may feel disorientated and out of sorts.
On this day, we awoke in the early morning darkness to a day that appeared dreary, "dreich" and dismal. Our little community, on the shores of the Salish Sea, was enveloped in a thick, impenetrable fog.
Many that day, would never see the sun. Perhaps they would even forget that there is a world "above the clouds"...a world of blue skies, bright winter sunshine, and air clarity enabling one to see forever, over stunning snow-frosted forests and soaring mountain peaks.
It would have been easier to stay home, pour another cup of coffee, gaze wistfully out the window...and remain in the gloom.
But we made a choice to take the lesser travelled path. It was a path that would ultimately lead to sunshine and azure skies, sparkling snow and a winter forest...a world apart and a world away.
The lesser travelled path requires effort. The choice must be made to break through inertia, whose "siren" call tempts us to do nothing, to remain unchanged, to choose the comfort and safety of the familiar. To do so, however, is to remain in the comfortless, even chilling, fog. Life and experience becomes limited to the status quo, its "best before date" vanishing in the swirling mists of time already past.
The lesser travelled path is new territory, and not always well posted. It begs situation awareness, a focus on the moment. This, however, is always a good thing. We find ourselves living fully, with an acute awareness of the world around us. We only have the moment, and we need to value it and drink it in, for it will never come again.
There are admittedly fewer companions on this path. It can, at times, be lonely. But those we meet are often of like mind and reflect a depth of varied experience. They have risen early, embraced the day...and chosen the lesser travelled way. They tend to be the listeners, the doers, the dreamers, the adventurers. They would rather play the game, than passively watch it, or talk endlessly about it. Their smiles and rosy, glowing cheeks reflect a body happy to be at one with nature - and moving. Conversations may be short, and in hushed tones, but they are gently punctuated with warmth and shared gratitude. The fact is, we would all rather listen, for we know that there are mentors amongst us, and it is in listening that we learn from one another.
This is the path that takes us above the clouds...where the sun always shines, and the skies are always clear.
The early morning, and the lesser travelled path...both so very lovely, both so very special.
All images are taken from the summit ridge of Mt. Tzouhalem, looking west over the Cowichan Valley of south Vancouver Island.