Finding Base Camp (#879)

In his classic book The Road Less Travelled, author M. Scott Peck shares the following analogy:

If one wants to climb mountains one must have a good base camp, a place where there are shelters and provisions, where one may receive nurture and rest before one ventures forth again to seek another summit. Successful mountain climbers know that they must spend at least as much time, if not more, in tending to their base camp as they actually do in climbing mountains, for their survival is dependent upon their seeing to it that their base camp is sturdily constructed and well stocked.

While he is using the analogy in the context of what it takes to have a successful marriage, I was struck in reading it by the fact that the same thing is true for us as individuals – if we want to achieve great things with our lives, it is necessary that we spend at least as much time, if not more, in tending to our base camp as we actually do in climbing mountains.

What is “base camp” for us?

It is our essential, spiritual (i.e. non-physical) nature – our connection to the whole.

There is a deeper part of all of us that remains unchanged regardless of what our bodies and personalities have been through in life. It is the innate well-being that we were born into; the innate wisdom that has guided us at key moments in our lives when we suddenly knew what to do from a place that seemed somehow outside of our normal consciousness and yet absolutely right and true.

When we are in touch with that place, we have a sense of expansiveness and possibility. The world feels vast, yet we feel up to the challenge of living in it because we too, at this level of understanding, are vast.  It is the space where miracles happen, predictable synchronicities, delivering “unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamt would come his way.”

From this place, we feel we can take on the world because in a very real way, we are the world.

So why do we ever lose sight of “base camp”? Why do we so often feel small, and less than, and not enough? Why is it that one minute we’re up for anything and the next we’re good for nothing?

Because we live in a world of unrecognized thought. Thought is the architect of both hope and despair; the source of every color in the emotional rainbow. Without thought, there would be no delineation in our world, like the pure clarity of light before passing through a prism and bursting into a kaleidescope of color. Yet unrecognized, thought demands our attention and fills our consciousness. We feel our thinking, but try to change the world in order to feel better.

We lose our way when we get caught up in thought, like being disoriented by mist rolling in to base camp. Whether the “mist” of thought takes the form of a beautiful vision or an icy chill, it can blind us to what is already here, and make us feel like we need to go stumbling about in search of instant remedies instead of waiting for the mist to clear.

In fact, you don’t even have to wait – you can just close your eyes to the mist, turn away from the noise, and realize that no matter where you are in your life or in the world, you’re never more than one thought away from home. Unlike in the mountain climbing metaphor, we take our base camp with us on every climb. Whether or not we are aware of that fact is the only variable.

You’re already home. You always were. It’s just that when you’re not preoccupied with your own thinking, it’s easier to feel it. And when you know that you can climb mountains in the world without ever leaving home base, going out and trying new things in the world becomes a lot less scary and a lot more fun.

Have fun, learn heaps, and happy exploring!

With all my love,
Michael

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