No one will be there to hear you complain.
My calves were starting to talk to me around mile 11 during my favorite hike up Eagle Creek. This after a super high energy night of bouncing with a bunch of 20 somethings enjoying all that is Con Bro Chill from the right side of the stage. But I’m by myself, who’s going to listen to my pain?
As I descend further, my left knee starts talking to me too, quite a bit louder than the calves. This is a sharp, pointed, stabbing feeling that’s going to stay with me for the next 2 miles. Who’s going to listen to my pain for the next 45 minutes as my pace slows.
I love how these moments alone bring me lessons I need to learn. Because I clearly didn’t get the message before when I was with someone to complain to.
I begin reflecting on times when I was with a couple different girlfriends whom I had been comfortable enough with to mention that I tended to comment (complain) a bit on my state of health moment by moment. …this cough has been bugging me. …my wrist feels like there’s something wrong with it. …my back is really tight today.
The hard truth hits me:
No one will be there to hear me complain.
And it’s come true in that moment for me.
I’m hiking alone.
My lesson gets expanded. I continue thinking about all complaining, not just physical. I thought about other people, situations out of my control, Facebook, quality of food. No one wants to hear about my complaints. They will out of compassion, but they will eventually be too exhausted to give me that energy over time and disengage with me.
So, what’s the solution? Not talk? In my moment in nature on this sweet day of a crisp fall in my beautiful NW full of waterfalls, moss, giant douglas fir and hemlock that surrounds me, I find gratitude.
Gratitude is the opposite of complaining.
And in fact in that new moment my pain subsides a bit closer to normal. It stays with me still as a reminder to stay present in that thought of gratitude, but it doesn’t punish me now. The last 2 miles turns into a gratitude-fest. I was grateful before but it would ebb and flow on my attention that took me out of the forest and into my thoughts of other worlds. I’m not only grateful about what was filling my eyes, ears and lungs, but I appreciated the very fact that I’m able to hike 14 miles. For if I couldn’t, I wouldn’t be able to see these marvels that fill my viewfinder. I’m reminded by what I’m wearing. I wouldn’t be able to come to these places without my waterproof hiking boots, breathable rain gear, layers of dry-fit, and wool socks. I’m grateful for all these things now and it expands.
My lesson concludes with the realization that if I focus on the pain, I’m narrowing my view to that one point. I’m looking so close at that one point, that all else falls away. But if I look “from” that point, my view expands. My whole existence expands and I feel full of gratitude.