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Finding Peace of Mind in the Wild West, Or Not

My older son and I try to take solo adventures together at least once a year. It’s a great time to re-connect and re-discover what matters most in our lives.

I’ve found that hiking and backpacking in nature is a great reminder that peace isn’t a destination or a place, it’s a state of mind.

As Robert Pirsig said in his novel, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, “The only zen you find on tops of mountains is the zen you bring up there.”

Pirsig, inspired by Buddhist thought no doubt, was onto something.

Recently we took a 3-day backpacking trip in the heart of the Guadalupe Mountains in West Texas right before Thanksgiving Day. The weather, for the most part, was beautiful. It was sunny and pretty mild.

We did have to contend with some pretty fierce gusty winds, which in these parts, the Wild West Texas desert country, is pretty customary in the “Guads”.

Which reminded me, again, as being in nature for extended periods of time usually does, that peace isn’t somewhere out there, it’s actually right here, inside each of us.

Though many of us might think we’ll find peace once we ascend the mountain top we’re climbing – whether literally or figuratively – peace isn’t a destination, nor is it contained in a specific place and time. 

Peace is a state of being.

We breathe it. We step into it and wear it like a base layer affixed to our skin. 

We hold the light of it right inside. 

We wrap ourselves in the stillness of it each time we freeze in awe at the primal nature of a hawk spreading her majestic wings through the breeze of time as she glides her earth-toned feathers to a perfect landing atop the rock mountain cliff. All the while gazing her focused eyes just west of the golden hour’s rays. 

That moment is peace. 

It’s ultimate presence. 

The kind we reach for with a certain ache, perhaps hoping it contains the ingredient for our immortality, but somehow, in our day-to-day lives we consistently reach through the wrong channels so we miss it’s healing balm for the soul. 

It’s connecting with what is and what isn’t. 

We must open our eyes in a new way to see it. 

We must be brave enough to take our life’s daggers, one-by-one, gently out of our heart, and let the heated breath of life forge new bonds on our insides. 

We must touch the ethereal with our fingertips to feel that moment a million times more allowing it to seep into every pore of our being. 

So, when we look at each other we don’t only call it by its name, but we feel it reflected back to us in the eyes of another. 


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