In front of me was a mountain. Not too tall, not to short. A beautiful mountain set in the Sacred Valley. It’s side was craggy with rocks and occasional vegetation. The sun shone on it’s side every afternoon as it set. It created a beautiful play of light upon it. The mountains surrounded the valley were tall and majestic rising high into the heavens. Kissed deeply by snow the beauty of them created a simple stillness in this place.
The Sacred Valley is not your normal valley. It is a very ancient place. All around it you can see the stories of the people who lived there before. Ancient paths and footprints. Tales of lives and communities. You can see deep roots through time. Megaliths and ruins, some so old that people have lost the way to create the very steps I take on my journey. Mysteries silenced by time.
My mind wanted to tangle me standing at the base of this mountain, but in mindlessness we can achieve the most. Detaching from our fears, projections from people who do not know or understand, emotions, distractions. Climbing this mountain required me to become present with creation and my path. As I looked at the head of the mountain I knew the effort that it would take to get there.
I pulled my straw hat low over my eyes shading myself from the sun. I tugged my pack over my shoulders feeling the presence of the water I carried with me. Thanking all of creation and the Great Spirit for the shoes that held my feet and began to climb. One step at a time. I knew I would get there.
These steps were ancient, the rocks carved from stone from a quarry found miles away. They are absolutely nothing like the steps we make today, ones that are even and precise. Rugged and wild and varied. Solid. They shone with a smoothness of the footsteps of many. The steps some were carved from stone, yet the heights were all uneven. Some steps were just cuts in giant rock outcroppings. Parts of the way I crawled. On the flat dirt paths I walked.
The way the path was designed was that you had to be fully present in the moment. The best way to walk was being thoughtless in the now. Feeling, seeing, in experience. The first hikes I could sense tension deep in me, a distraction. Like the nights when you wanted to lay down to sleep but conversations from years ago want to replay in your mind. Connecting with my breath and the moment. Early on, the tension created the thoughts. My foot connection with the rocks would fade and I would go a million miles away. Reigning these thoughts back into nothingness became the pattern of my footsteps. Until I only heard the footsteps, the sun and the birds singing a song.
At the top of the mountain, I rested, my soul lifting prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude for this beautiful day.