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Are you a Mountain or an Old Goat?

It all depends on how you look at things.


An old friend, Joey, and I went hiking near the beach a few years back. We didn’t find the hike too challenging. So instead of following the established path closer to the water, we decided to trek the side of a hill. Two ladies neared us, as we reached the walking path. One joked, "I saw you two coming down that big hill. Boy, you guys are like mountain goats!” After we passed the women, my friend Joey turned and whispered, "Did you hear that? She called me an old goat!” To which I replied, “Did you hear that? She called me a mountain!”

It all depends on how you look at things.

One of my best friends (let’s call her Camille) met financial hurdles recently. Camille is an amazing artist. She can also play the piano, sell houses, cut hair, sew clothes; and she happens to be one of my favorite cooks. Camille even owned a restaurant a few years ago. Due to the unexpected, my friend has started working as a caregiver for an older, sick person. The work of a caregiver can be physically and emotionally challenging. Camille tells me that sometimes, if all goes well, it can take up to an hour and a half to assist her patient in using the restroom. Camille is petite, but strong and determined. In addition to caring for her patient, she helps around the house and cooks some pretty delicious meals. Her patient and his wife appear to be quite content with Camille’s work. It aches me, though, to picture my friend struggling so hard to make a living. I suggested to Camille, maybe you should look for something less strenuous and stressful.

Camille quickly negated my concern, “I don’t look at this job as something bad. I look at it as if I’m getting paid to go to school. I’m learning how to take care of someone. And, yes, this is a tough case. But as I learn more and more, I can take my experience to another job. And down the line, I can choose my clients and more conducive arrangements. Plus, I’m helping out another human being. So, you see, I’m lucky.” She smiled and we moved on to another topic.

I’ve been reflecting on Camille’s positive perspective. I wonder about the source of her strength, wisdom and sunniness. Does this come from her mind, her spirituality, or her heart? Maybe it comes from all three.

Camille’s take on things serves as a reminder that we have a choice in how we look at struggles, hardships, or how we see ourselves amidst an ocean of challenge. This takes me back to a rosy quote from Abraham Lincoln:

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

Will you center your eyes on the petals and smell the roses this week? Or will you focus on gripping the thorns?

This morning I heard a song, which echoed my thoughts. Here’s a line from a familiar Beatles tune:

“Hey Jude, don’t make it bad. Take a sad song and make it better…”

Yes, let’s make it better!

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