Inspiration is Everywhere: Pema Chödrön

”There is a story about a group of people climbing to the top of a mountain. It turns out it’s pretty steep, and as soon as they get up to a certain height, a couple of people look down and see how far it is, and they completely freeze; they had come up against their edge and they couldn’t go beyond it. The fear was so great that they couldn’t move. Other people tripped on ahead, laughing and talking, but as the climb got steeper and more scary, more people began to get scared and freeze. All the way up the mountain there were places where people met their edge and just froze and couldn’t go any farther. The people who made it to the top looked out and were very happy to have made it to the top. The moral of the story is that it really doesn’t make any difference where you meet your edge; just meeting it is the point. Life is a whole journey of meeting your edge again and again. That’s where you’re challenged; that’s where, if you’re a person who wants to live, you start to ask yourself questions like, ‘Now why am I so scared? What is it that I don’t want to see? Why can’t I go further than this?’ The people who got to the top were not the heroes of the day. It’s just that they weren’t afraid of heights; they are going to meet their edge somewhere else. The ones who froze at the bottom were not the losers. They simply stopped first and so their lesson come earlier than the others. However, sooner or later everybody meets his or her edge.” -from Chödrön’s “The Wisdom of No Escape”

This passage really helped me out a few months ago. In moments where I would freeze, I would consider the possibility of simply continuing. Just seeing if I could go further, then freeze again, then go further. Pema’s message is incredibly liberating. I mean, I’m nowhere near where I could be. But this concept of constantly meeting my edge has changed my life. Even little stuff like asking for help in a store (something that scares me) became a recognition of that freezing moment and then a possibility to step past it and just keep going.

words: Phoebe Rose Sandford and Pema Chödrön
photography: Shambhala Publications