There Are No Easy Days


“It is all downhill from here” does not mean what you think it means
It does not mean the way will be smoother, faster, less demanding
It means only that the pains and challenges will be different
and the way made more difficult because you thought it would be easier

Because there are no easy days

On the uphill climb you were turned outward
there were helping hands
encouraging words

But the slow, downward crawl turns you inward
It isolates and aggravates
it strips you of whatever strength and courage and capacity for kindness you had left
it leaves you raw and aching and spent

So it is in this place that you must open all your senses to beauty

Let your eyes linger on the delicate blossoms nodding in your wake,
on the fresh green ferns, heads still tightly curled
on the mica glinting from rocks underfoot
on the dancing butterflies
on the trickling stream

Feel with gratitude the warmth of the wood
the cool kiss of the breeze
Receive and return the stranger’s kind smile

Let your ears follow the birdsong’s melody
or the soft chimes of cattle-bells hung from grazing necks
seek the river’s distant shush
lean into the deep, vast silence

Inhale the warm, pungent pine
the crisp mountain air
the acrid smoke of village cooking fires

Savor the food prepared by worn hands
drink the crystal water
eat in gratitude for this sustenance

See, feel, hear, smell, taste the beauty all around you
it will not make the way easier
but it will make it more worthwhile
Do not wait until the road is smoother and the way less wearying
Seek beauty now, in this moment

For there are no easy days

We took a pilgrimage, not to a church or shrine or temple but to the mountains.  For 23 days we walked in the presence of some of the world’s most breath-taking scenery in the Annapurna region of Nepal, completing the full Annapurna Circuit and a few side-treks. These are a few reflections written along the way, after hours and days of walking and breathing and sometimes contemplating.


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