Most of you who read this blog have been on the path of self-discovery for some time. You think about what’s important and meaningful. You’re curious about what the future might hold for you. Perhaps you worry more than you would like.
If we sat down and talked with each other, we would find that our ideas, beliefs and concerns are quite similar. I just returned from Peru and was privileged to experience the sacred Incan city of Machu Picchu and to learn about its civilization. Let me take you back to that first day. As I boarded the train that would take me through the mountains to the town of Aguas Calientes, which lay at the base of the mountain, I was bursting with excitement. As I got off the train and walked through the markets, I glanced up at the magical little town, with the train going through its center that was the gateway to the lost city. The more vigorous folks could hike the 27 mile Inca trail, at an elevation of 10000 feet, that would take them directly to Machu Picchu.
From Aguas Calientes, we took a bus up to the city and saw it for the first time. I was in awe. Words are inadequate to describe how I felt. Mallku, a local shaman and author of Incan Power Places, shared his knowledge and wisdom about the many wonders of the ancient city. I was struck by was how similar his wisdom was to what I believed. I was reminded that there are many paths to the mountaintop. When you get there you experience an ancient peace within your heart. We all have had glimpses of what that is. As I meditated and played my flute in the many power places on the mountain I experienced that ancient peace. When Mallku related some of the concerns of this ancient civilization, I thought about how some of them were so similar to the ones we have today. For example, how do you create a technology that enables you to have sufficient water during the dry season?
On more than a few occasions, I was reminded that the more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know. Every culture has its own legacy and wisdom that we can learn from. It’s also true that each of us has a history and body of knowledge that we can learn from, which becomes our wisdom. It also can become our legacy if we share it with others.
Our wisdom keeps evolving the more that we allow ourselves to experience life, but it’s not that often that we take the time to sit down and just think about what that is. As you continue reading, I invite you to take a few minutes and explore what that is for you. Perhaps it’s in the form of a message to a loved one. This is what I wrote in Dancing on the River.
“I have frequently thought about what I want my children to know about life. This is my message to them and to you:
Things change. You have to prepare yourself so that you can flow with these changes. The average person today has six or seven careers. The divorce rate is high. Friendships change. You might have a falling out, someone might move away, or pass on. And of course there are health challenges along the way. Let us not forget about the physiological changes that occur during the aging process. The currents of the river are constantly changing; they are affected by many unforeseen forces. You can’t live your life being afraid of these changes, because by avoiding them you are not really living.
What worked at one time in your life might not work at another time. Rather than developing career skills, you need to develop life skills that will enable you to thrive in any situation.
Living a successful and fulfilling life is not an accident. Successful people have goals and dreams. They have faith. They know that at the darkest moment there will be a light that illuminates their path. They know that they are not alone and that there is a power greater than they are. When they live from their center they have access to this power.
Life happens. There are some things we can’t control. The meaning we give to what happens is a choice. Saying yes to life and dancing on the river is also a choice. Enjoy the dance.”
The trip also reminded me of the irony in life. Let me take you back once more to the town of Aguas Calientes. When Annie and I first got there, I noticed that our hotel was near the Urubamba River. Some rooms faced the train tracks, while others overlooked the river. I was hoping for the river. When I saw our room for the first time, which overlooked the river, I was excited. There was a magic that I experienced for a few minutes before departing for the ancient city. When we returned in the evening after a day of climbing, the sound of the river soothed my soul .
I looked forward to waking up early and sitting on the balcony while listening to the sound of the river. I did wake up early but not to the sound of the river. Instead it was the sound of a crane moving rocks. When I looked out at the river I saw the crane and a host of workers. I laughed to myself. An hour later we again took the bus up the mountain. I was again reminded of the perfection in life. Life happens. It has it’s own way. We let go. We all are on this journey together. We sometimes forget to laugh at ourselves.
I am excited to announce a book signing at Book Passages on October 9th for my book, Dancing on the River. In the process of writing I have come to discover what it truly means to be truly dancing on the river of life. It is a consciousness that is a reflection of a life decision that you make over and over again to be happy in the moment.
Mark Susnow, is an executive and life coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He is the author of, Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes.