Several years ago, Kathy and I embarked on a trip to stay in a cabin for a week up in the mountains near Luray, Virginia.
This Cabin was on the side of a mountain facing west. It had a swimming pool, hot tub, Wi-Fi and all of the amenities of a 3 to 4-star hotel. It was a severe case of Glamping. Three kids, a few grandkids, a dog, and 25 years of marriage we were celebrating our REAL honeymoon.
The scenery was breathtaking. During certain times of the day, the mountains took on that blue hue that gives them their name — the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Perched about three-quarters of the way up the mountain, you could see the vast expanse of a valley in between to the next ridge to the west. Flowing lazily below, the Shenandoah River ran between the mountain range down in the valley. The river itself was not visible. But, when the sunlight hit it just right you could see the light glistening off it from the covered porch of the cabin.
In the plethora of information that we received from the property managers, we must have overlooked where it said we could park our car, leave the keys, and use one of their four-wheel drive vehicles for driving up to the cabin.
I don’t know what the grade was, but I was sure the car was scaling cliffs on our way up the mountain. My Front Wheel Drive Ford Focus was screaming, crying, and gnashing teeth all the way up the hill. There was a stretch of about a football fields length that we went three feet forward and two feet back all the way up. Spinning, spitting dirt and rock we gained enough momentum to get to the cabin.
With all of the provisions needed, we were not going to leave until check out time on Friday. WE DID NOT WANT TO TRAVERSE DEAD MAN’S PASS UNTIL NECESSARY.
MONDAY DAY ONE: Everything went wonderfully. Enjoyed the pool, the hot tub, practiced Yoga, Youtubed a Zumba Video — we looked like a couple of chickens with their feathers on fire — we cooked on the grill, made mad passionate… I won’t go there.
TUESDAY DAY TWO: Cabin Fever set in. We feel trapped because we are afraid to drive up and down the mountain. Somebody who does not know the meaning of sit down and relax, I think Kathy was suffering cabin fever worse than me. The edginess taking its toll.
Something broke on the first day or so. I don’t recall what. We called the Property Manager for a repair. His turn around time was impressive. He was a kind Bloke. Originally from the UK, he had come here to work in the hotel industry, was managing several properties for his MIL. In one of our conversations, he told us about parking our car at the base of the mountain and using the Four Wheel Drive Vehicles to drive to the cabin.
Planning the day trips commenced.We went to Luray Caverns, walked all over the quaint little town of Luray, went inner-tubing on the Shenandoah River, we went to Walmart. Walmart has the same crowd no matter where you go. This was the most memorable experience made for a great honeymoon getaway.
I learned some things. Even in the most pristine conditions for relaxation, most of us struggle with restlessness or what I would like to call Restless Life Syndrome.
Even when given ideal opportunities for winding down and relaxing, we struggle to relax completely. A residual of mindless chatter gnaws at the back of our mind. Habitual patterns of thinking such as planning, worrying, anxiety resist relaxation even when there is nothing to plan, nothing to worry about, and no reason to be anxious.
In our culture, we have lopsided views of the work/rest relationship. Perhaps, this is a Human condition. From early childhood, this thinking is branded into our mind- PLAN! PLAN! DO! DO! But never taught Rest, Rest, relax, relax. What we knew intuitively as a child is indoctrinated right out of us. Never taught to disengage from the thinking mind and enjoy and live in the moment.
Our conditioning says true happiness is contingent on future achievements — rise high enough up the ladder, make so much money, buy the perfect home, have the right number of kids, etcetera, etcetera. When or if we reach these goals. We find they don’t deliver the satisfaction they promise. We move on to something else. Our life is spent pursuing things we thought would give happiness. We become conditioned to the idea that happiness is somewhere in the future. The result is even during downtime, we plot and plan our future.
Staring out from the side of a mountain on a beautiful summer morning the sun shining brightly upon the neighboring mountains.
In the stillness, I listened to the birds sing with their heavenly voices.
Despite the promise of the mid-summer sun, a gentle refreshing morning breeze flowed across my skin cooling the effects of the rising heat.
In between each sip of coffee, I savored the taste in the stillness.
Something was off! I sensed the static running in the background and the feeling of restlessness.
What is this nagging feeling?
Why do I feel restless?
WHY DO I FEEL SO RESTLESS?
Why can’t I have this moment to relax completely?
While pondering, I discovered that my being relaxed was not contingent on where I was at the time or what I was doing. What and Where may contribute but do not cause you to fully relax.
Your state of mind is what enables you to relax. What I needed was to alter my state of mind not my destination or activity. At that moment my conditions were ideal.
After fifty plus years of being stressed out, even in relaxing situations I could not let go.
NOW, I am learning to let go, be at peace one breath at a time.