A Trip Down a Mountain Changed My Perspective

I recently traveled to Colorado for a meeting. The meeting place was in the mountains, about a 3-hour drive from the airport. I was told that the drive was spectacular, and looked forward to seeing scenery that looked quite different from my home in Connecticut.

(c) Kathleen Thompson

(c) Kathleen Thompson

I couldn’t have been more disappointed. 

The scenery didn’t appear that great. I drove the 3 hours unimpressed. And if you had asked me when I arrived if I enjoyed the drive, I would have honestly answered “No.”

But here’s the thing. The scenery wasn’t the problem. It was my mindset.

You see, my mother had just been released from the hospital and I was concerned about her. I felt guilty going away while she was at home feeling so poorly.

Then there was the frustration at the airport. A poorly-managed car-rental system meant that it took 1.5 hours to get from the airport to drive away in my car.

The traffic didn’t help, either. It was bumper-to-bumper for well over an hour in 100 degree heat. Not conducive to a good time.

By the time I got off the highway and turned onto the mountain road, I was exhausted and frustrated. Then I called my mother and she didn’t sound too good. That added fuel to the fire.

I dragged the worries and frustrations from earlier in the day along that mountain road. I barely noticed the scenery. When I noticed it at all, I negatively compared it to other places where I had been in the Rockies: Glacier National Park, Beartooth Pass in Wyoming, the road from Jasper to Banff in Canada. This ride just wasn’t as nice. I was disappointed. But I wasn’t really “seeing”. The scenery was merely a backdrop to my emotions.

Isn’t that so often the way? Our perception is colored by what we drag along with us. This relationship is lacking. That person isn’t very interesting. This trip to the beach isn’t that fun. That food doesn’t taste good. Sometimes it is not the thing or the situation that is lacking. It is us. We are tired. Stressed. Fretting about the past or worried about the future. We can’t see the beauty of the present moment because our emotions have clouded our vision.

Here’s the thing. We can’t really live in the past or the future. We can only live in the now. Yet we can damage our ability to appreciate and enjoy the present. So let’s live right here, right now. Experience the present by savoring each moment. Don’t drag the past or future to the present. All that dragging just weighs us down.

So how was my trip back down the mountain? Spectacular! I was in a completely different frame of mind when I descended. I was still thinking about my mom, hadn’t slept too well while I was gone, and was trying to get to the airport on time. But this time I didn’t drag that with me on the journey. I got in the car, said a prayer of thanks, and just started driving.

I saw the same scenery (in reverse), and was wowed by the beauty of it all. The light dancing on the rocks. The snow on top of the peaks. The rivers gurgling beside the road. The wildflowers. The cattle grazing. I wanted to take pictures every few minutes, but contented myself with the memories I was recording in my mind and heart. The trip couldn’t have been more different.

The same can be true for you. Live in the present moment. See with your eyes, mind, and heart. It will make all the difference.


How have you gotten a different view by savoring the present moment? Please share by clicking here.