She asks if I’ll come on a Stanford dish hike with her and Papa. “C’mon Mom! If I have to do it, you can, too."
The next morning, we drive out to the Stanford dish later than I would prefer. The sun’s already out to test hikers’ endurance. It doesn’t take long for aversive mind to set in.
Thought clouds pop up left and right. Too bad they aren’t precipitating any moisture or helpful cover against the sun.
“I shouldn’t have come.”
“We should have left earlier.”
“I hope my SI joint and gluteal muscles can do this.”
“My daughter should have worn shorts like her parents. What was she thinking hiking in jeans? She didn’t even sunblock her arms!”
Thank goodness for awareness. There is clear recognition that none of these thoughts are helping me cool down physically or emotionally.
As we walk to the dish and begin the hike, I change thought channels to things I am grateful for. The family hiking together. The choice to change thoughts. Dressing appropriately for the weather. Bringing a water bottle along. Sunglasses, sunhat, sunblocking the skin. A body that can walk.
“I can do this! We can do this!”
It doesn’t take long for my teen to complain as we trudge up the first steep hill.
“(Groan) How long is this hike anyway? Why did I ever agree to this?”
Papa is further up the hill walking backwards as if he is our guide.
“Welcome to the Stanford Dish. As you can see, shade on this hike is sparse. It’s 3.5 miles. Keep up or be boiled alive!”
I glance over at our daughter’s expression. She isn’t exactly smiling at this motivational pep talk. Recognizing the aversion and allowing it to be just as it is, I try a different approach as we reach the top of the hill.
“Wow! We made it. Sure is hot out here. How are you doing in those jeans? Do you need any water?”
Throughout the hike, I try to mirror her groans with my own, the two of us swearing and laughing at how good it feels to express discontent. She seems to appreciate the fantasy of us walking in a different season altogether or having our favorite flavored popsicles and snow cones to cool us down.
I realize that this is only a partial drizzle of “RAIN”. I am not helping her to investigate the discomfort in her body or to not identify with the experience as “me” or “mine”, to nourish with self-compassion.
Is it enough?
Trusting the recognition and allowing parts of RAIN, we stay with the imaginary drizzle. Granted it’s more guided imagery than straightforward mindfulness, maternal instinct tells me she isn’t ready for the investigation and non-identification/nourishing parts. She isn’t ready to open to the deluge of what’s inside her.
Most adults aren’t ready, either.
Guiding her too far, too fast would be a subtle form of spiritual bypass. It’s tempting to get to the end of the hike, the metaphorical end of suffering as quickly as possible. I should know. I’ve done it plenty of times in the delusional name of healing.
We eventually reach the end of the hike. No actual rain, but a partial drizzle with “RA” was good enough. An understanding of “IN” may come with time.
Take all the time you need, Dear One. The emotional intelligence I see in you surprises me, surpasses where I was at your age.
May you meet the ups and downs of life with emotional, spiritual tools that make sense to you.