I’ve been hiking some mountain trails with Gary this week in Colorado.
It’s beautiful! A blanket of snow across the mountains paints it into a winter wonderland.
It’s also cold! Which means we’ve had these trails to ourselves—because everyone else thinks it’s better to stay warm by the fire. But Gary and I are Southerners who only see views like this in the movies, so the cold isn’t stopping us from soaking up the beauty. We layer up and hike.
Trudging through thick snow takes lots more effort than walking the neighborhood streets. And the upward climbs challenge me in ways my neighborhood route never does—the only inclines I encounter at home are the slanted streets for flash floods.
These trails have made me say more than once, “All miles are not equal.” Gary usually hears me say it at the crest of a climb when I’m out of breath and ready for a rest stop.
Yesterday we walked a trail that others had trekked recently enough so that the snow was packed a little. It made it easier to keep up a brisk steady pace. Until we took the southward loop.
The previous hikers went left. We went right. And the snow got thicker.
I was following Gary at this point, trying to step where he stepped. It wasn’t unusual to sink 6 to 8 inches in the snow. Or slip a little on the ice. It took more work, but we kept up the pace we set earlier on the hike.
About this time I was once again thinking, “All miles are not equal. And this one is more unequal than the last one.” It was tough. I was getting tired. And even though the surroundings were beautiful, the pace we maintained choked the beauty right out of the hike.
“Let’s slow down. This is tough,” I said through my thick breath behind the scarf covering my face.
So we did. We slowed our pace.
A little further up we even sat for a rest on a log that invited us over. We sipped water, soaked up the scenery and talked about the trail.
We talked about our pace on the trail.
And we talked about our pace in life.
Life happens like the mountain trail we were on. We take one little turn, and life gets rough.
Maybe it’s a sudden turn on life’s trail. Or maybe it’s subtle—the difficulties slowly accumulate. Both have happened in our family.
However it happens, the trail gets harder. But we keep up the same pace. Because that’s what we’re suppose to do. Keep going. Trudge through it.
Before we know it, the pace we maintain chokes life out of the journey.
We don’t slow down because…
- We think the new tough will last just a short bit, so we can trudge through it.
- No one else slows down, so why should we?
- We simply don’t know how. We’re at a lost to find activities we can eliminate in order to slow the pace.
- We don’t want to. There’s an adrenalin rush from keeping a pace just beyond one’s limits that feeds the ego. So we don’t want to slow down.
- It shows weakness. At least that’s what we believe. Our culture praises busy people who run fast while balancing lots on their plate. So we don’t slow down because we’re afraid others will think we are weak. Or we’ll think we are weak.
- We don’t even notice the insane pace we’re maintaining. Everyone else on the trail is going just as fast, so it doesn’t occur to us that we could slow down.
Today I want to invite you to take some quiet time on a bench to notice your pace. Maybe your speed is just right for the season you’re in. But maybe your pace is too fast—the trail has gotten tough and you haven’t adjusted.
Here are three questions to consider as you take a deep breath, sip some cool water—or warm coffee–and rest from the trail…
- How does your pace of life feel? Pay attention to it. Are you able to enjoy the beauty of life’s journey? Or are you just trudging through?
- What conditions have changed recently to impact the pace you maintain?
- What adjustments do you need to make to your pace? If you need to slow down, how are you going to do it? Which of the reasons listed above keep you from slowing down?
Remember, not all miles are equal. Your trail may be tougher now than it was before. You don’t have to keep the same pace.
You may need to say, “Let’s slow down.”
Gary and I slowed down for the last two miles of the trail we hiked–good thing since most of it was uphill. And we’re slowing down in some other areas of our life journey too.
My prayer is that you’ll pay attention to your pace. May you have the courage to make adjustments so you enjoy life’s journey.
Now it’s time for me to layer up and go take another hike.
What have you learned from your pace on life’s journey? What’s another reason you would add to the list of why we don’t slow down?