Reflections on being here now

By Pamela Noel

Special to Plumas News

At the end of 2020 my good friend sits in her home, in the quiet of the early morning. She wonders what “shoe” will drop next. Will it be new COVID-19 numbers of infections? Will it be some new political shenanigans? Will it be the worsening of our economy? Will it contain elements of social unrest? Will the year end with a quiet whimper or just…end quietly, while we are resting in relative isolative peace?

This year of 2020 has not only been unprecedented in political, social, medical, and economic ways. It has also led my friend to a personal place of introspection and reevaluation of what is important; how she wants to spend the rest of her life on this planet. Being relatively sequestered from much of her usual “world” has created an open invitation to view and consider her inner existence. Ordinarily an active member of her outer community, she is now thrust into a world where reevaluation of this inner life becomes increasingly urgent.

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She recently read a book by David Brooks, a columnist, author, and commentator on a national news program. Entitled The Second Mountain, he describes the first mountain as being the mountain we usually climb earlier in life in order to establish ourselves in the eyes of the world. This includes finding a career, perhaps starting a family, establishing a home, and other outer identifiers. At some point he says that many of us come face to face with our own “valley”— a time of great reexamination — that often occurs as the result of a health crisis, a death, loss of relationship, or some other event or series of events . And, in some cases, it could just be a gradual and growing dissatisfaction with the status quo of one’s life.

After climbing up the walls and out of this valley, the “second mountain” enters the picture. We begin to look at the path forward in life with a different lens; one that is powered, less by ego, and more by the heart — one that has a deep meaning for one’s existence, caring little about how one appears to the greater world.

For me, this feels like becoming more desirous of opening to the influence of “spirit” in life. This power of spirit doesn’t necessarily have to equate with a certain religion or designated spiritual path. More to my way of feeling — it is woven into who I am and how I am. Not wanting to separate spirit and conventional life into different compartments, I want to walk through my days in manner that is directed from deeply held and uplifting inclinations. Coinciding with Brooks’ second mountain, seems right on target with this stage in life … to be directed through our days by something beyond, or perhaps deeply within ourselves.

So I see this time of relative isolation —t his sheltering in place — as one of opportunity. Assuming one is warm and fed, we have a chance, during this time of our lives, to sit, and see what arises within. Taking guidance from this place may not deliver us from all the outer chaos, but can refresh our relationship with ourselves during a time that is usually full of a multitude of distraction, regardless of how pleasant and wonderful it has usually seemed.

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However this year ends, I am rooting for rest, relaxation, peace and quiet. Needing a break from the drama that is both “real” and media facilitated, being alone is not such a bad thing. I’ll even take the year’s ending sounding like a quiet whimper.