My heart is pounding. My breath is short. I stumble over one more rock on the trail. Behind me I heard, ‘Polepole. Walk polepole’.
It was my first fall living in the mountains and I was climbing with a seasoned hiker. ‘Anne, only walk as fast as you can walk without loosing your breath. Walk slowly. Walk polepole’. He described this wonderful Swahili expression that teaches one to walk slowly, gently and calmly. He wanted me to learn that I was to climb the mountain at my speed. I was to walk uphill slowly and steadily. It’s not a race. There’s no competition, only self-care, acceptance, wisdom and completion.
In my early days in the village, sometimes it seemed like too much work to climb the mountain behind my home. It’s like having a Stairmaster from a gym in my backyard, only I don’t get to chose how steep it is! What he was teaching me was that I can’t adjust the steepness but I’m completely in charge of my speed.
Since those early days I’ve changed my walking pace. My heart still pounds, but I seldom lose my breath. I walk polepole (sounds like ‘pulley-pulley’). And I enjoy my walks. I have time to breath, to enjoy the trees, the creek, the birds and anything else that my senses linger on.
I know that pace of life has helped me find my way. As a Mystic in Motion, I’m susceptible to the chaos and fast pace of our world. I need help to walk slowly and calmly, not taking on more than I can manage without loosing my breath, my grounding. I think too this relates to the bigger world. We’ve just entered another season of restrictions due to COVID19. I think it’s time to remember ‘polepole’. That means it’s time to move slowly, gently and calmly through the days. Not get out of breath through an overload of news, worries or anxieties. Time to hold life lightly, move through it gently, savoring what we see, accepting that we can’t change the size of the mountain, but we can change how we walk it. Polepole. We can walk polepole.
Are you fighting the ‘size’ of anything in your life? Is there anyway you might adjust your pace to ‘polepole’?
Love and prayers
Mystic in Motion
Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire
Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder
Society Member with Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living
Companion with The Rivendell Way