“The world is a bitter place only if you let it be so.”
But what does that mean? And what does “It’s all in your attitude” mean?
These are over-simplified, over-used phrases which convey the truth that the way we view the outside world depends on what’s going on in our inside world and, also, on our mental focus, which is not a simple matter at all.
We all have complete control over our inner world and over the way we view and interpret the outside world. But we readily relinquish that control to others, believing, accepting, and integrating the views and interpretations they offer, because we want to rely on outside influences to direct our lives, to take responsibility for the outcome of our lives, never trusting our own senses.
Only when we accept responsibility for our own lives and for the outcome we’re living toward, can we have a good attitude and make our world a beautiful and fulfilling place.
Last weekend we went hiking with friends in the Bridger Mountains on Saturday and the Crazy Mountains on Sunday. The sun was brilliant, glittering off the few clouds, the treetops and the clean snow on the peaks. The hikes left us exhausted and blissfully happy.
A few years ago, when spring took even longer to arrive than this year’s did, I was groaning about the cold and the snow and the rain, wishing summer would hurry and get here. Ben turned to me with a peculiar look on his face and said, “But you don’t like summer.”
I looked at him as if he was from Jupiter, wondering what he was talking about; then gradually I realized he was right, I really don’t like summer: it’s hot, several kinds of nasty bugs bite me every time I go outside, and the pollen of grasses and clover give me allergic fits. The one great part of summer I do love, though, is being able to get out into the mountains for hiking and backpacking. The mountains are cooler, generally less buggy and usually void of the high pollen counts we have in the valley.
So maybe I don’t like summer, but I do love the mountains. When I’m up there, I don’t have to think about all the stressors of life down here. And it doesn’t matter if I get grubby and sweaty and my hair is a mess, because everyone up there on the mountain is the same. People hiking in the mountains are there for a good time away from life in the valley, so they’re not expecting me to behave in some obscure way they expect me to behave based on their personal desires, they’re too busy relaxing and having fun. In that manner, they’re all like true friends, whether I’ve ever met them before or not.
And that’s a good feeling.
As I’ve said before, Ben and I had lived here for ten years before we really got into the mountains here. Both of us grew up hiking, fishing, and hunting with our families, loving the mountains, enjoying the peace and solitude. We still often wonder why it took so long to get up there after we moved here. Part of it was, I think, that our place here on the creek has a peace and solitude of its own. It’s exciting to watch the light and snow and shades of green on the mountains from where we’re at, but a big part of us not getting up there was because we kept ourselves so busy in the studio, trying to make the kind of living the rest of the world thought we should be making. We never actually attained that kind of a living, but we struggled toward it for years.
Now, we’re a lot more relaxed. We landscape with Ursula during the summer, which is hard work that we enjoy, since it lets us work outdoors, that keeps our bodies in better shape than we would be in, and pays the bills we need to pay. And it lets us enjoy the mountains during the summer and the changing fall. And when the landscaping season is over, we’re actually anxious to get back into the studio. Without resentment. We feel more free now than we ever have.
And what could be better?
The mountains to our west, just before we headed out toward them on Saturday morning.
Our summer grasses are already turning golden down here.
The gold of our mountains is the lush greenery. (We’re RICH!!)
The Bitterroot, Montana’s state flower, is actually very rare.
The mountains to our east just before we headed out for them on Sunday morning.