Tuesday, January 22, 2013


January Main Article  

"In the simplicity of things we find the extraordinary.
Alas, many people being uninterested in simplicity,
walk right past what they are seeking."
- Papi Conpelo

Randy Cheek is known throughout Sonoma County for his work as a marriage and family counselor. A founding member of The Collaborative Council of the Redwood Empire, Randy works locally and travels globally encouraging and teaching therapists, financial professionals and attorneys to work together is service to folks engaged in the entanglements of dispute.   In the early 1990's our kids entered kindergarten at Petaluma's Wilson School. It was then we met. We've been friends since. Randy is a colleague in thoughtful practice. We self published a small pamphlet, "Rising Above Conflict".

Randy listens. He serves. He inspires. He always leaves me thinking. Occasionally, though not often, we meet for coffee, catch up on life, share stories along with accompanying laughs (or tears). Saturday afternoon December 29, 2012, we sat and talked a while at Acre, a locally owned spot downtown. Our topics: childish adults, grown up kids, amateur mountain climbing as a metaphor... and believe it or not ...stretching.

On the subjects of childish adults and grown up kids - this was entirely about me and some folks who my youngest son and I know.

Regarding mountain climbing, however, Randy related the story of a recent adventure. One day near the beginning of 2012 his friend, John Martin, asked, "Randy, how'd you like to climb Mount Whitney this year with me?" Randy shot back a quick reply - "Sure!" And so an adventure began ... stretching each into months of prep... working out ... losing weight ... securing equipment ... scheduling time ... increasing cardio strength ... more working out ... recons, etc. Finally the trip came and their base camp was established. They made an extreme early morning rise (1AM) to ascend. Along the way met some interesting characters: two old men, one tree, a young woman and the marker.

Two Old Men. In the dark, trail lit with headlamps, Randy and John encountered two old men. Over the next hours paths crossed and separated. Each pair ran out of trail, got lost, wandered back, found the other pair, then joined together to walk a while until their steps again diverged. This happened a few times. Morning light began to grow - colors shifted - reds became orange then yellow and on and on. One of the old men decided to give up his trek. The other walked him part way down the mountain passing Randy and John on their way up. Then the fellow leaving went his way, and his old partner turned uphill deciding this was his one-and-only-chance-left-in-life-to-make-the-climb, he linked up with Randy and John and continued.

A Tree. "You know Lance," said Randy, "the scenery up there is incredible." I asked what inspired him the most. "The vastness and the ruggedness." Hmmmm. "But one thing truly caught me off guard." What? "It was a tree." How so? "Its narrow roots that sprung long ago from one seed, barely wedged in rock, somehow survived extremes of temperature and pressure and over the years a sapling stretched to this huge old tree. It's still there supported by a narrowness of root and rock crag." Wow! "Yea, goes to show you how important being firmly grounded really is."

One Young Woman. On final ascent Randy found himself doing some serious huffing and puffing. A full year of prep. Aerobics. Working out. Increased cardio performance. Yet, this final stage was still a strain. Every step, a trudge of its own - until he heard something moving swiftly behind him. "The air was thin, I thought I was hallucinating an angel's voice." He turned and there she stood. Twenty-eight years old. No pack. No equipment. Walking steadfastly at a rapid clip.
(Randy) "Uhhhh ... Where'd you come from?"
(She) "Oh me? I decided to walk the John Muir Trail this year and found myself here today. So, hey might as well climb this."
Then off she went.

Randy - he got inspired. "You know," he said, "you'd be amazed what something like that can do for your attitude on a climb like this. I got my wind. I stretched my legs ... and off I went too!"

The Marker. At the top of the Mt Whitney sits a marker. Randy enjoyed his climb along with the young woman and John.   There along with tens of others they rested. Then came a loud yell. "Where is it?!?" All eyes turned. The old man, this new climbing companion, had arrived and was shouting. Everyone cheered and pointed as he sprinted at 14,000 plus feet in altitude - his last final steps to stretch and hug the marker. "I'm 80 years old. This has been one of my life's dreams."

Randy and I continued to talk and drink coffee. When we were almost complete we reflected on the lessons of our "catching up". Randy offered I watch something that he said would be profound: a TED Conference presentation by Dr. Amy Cuddy, Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. So I did.

As with the story above, I'm passing a recommendation along to you. It's about involvement, the mind-body connection, and making a difference in your own life. And interestingly - it has real science behind it. Randy shared that along with his Mount Whitney climb, this TED presentation was one of his profound findings of 2012. As a clinician Randy put to the test what Dr. Cuddy offered in her presentation. The result? He now uses the simple practice for his own wellbeing; and he has his clients similarly engaged. All have produced extraordinary results.

GO HERE --- Sit, watch, listen and enjoy! Then, take action yourself. (OR walk on by - your choice). Two old men. A tree. One young woman. The marker. All quite simple. So is what you'll see and hear. Stretch out. Do something!

In the morning

Reach into the day
From the night that wrapped, warmed
And welcomed you
Gracefully into her arms

Sunlight teaches you
To touch the earth around you slowly
Heed this

The day will be here soon enough
Welcome it
But no faster than the caress that nurtured
Releases you from her eternity
Into daylight's moment

The gladiator knows
From whence comes strength
To that place She gladly returns
Throughout the battle

Linger a while
The dance and fray
Will greet you soon enough

Meet both on terms
Filled with memory of a hand
That touched you throughout the night;
Even when you slept alone
You didn't
You never do

You are always returning somewhere
Let it be to the Peace
That knows you

This day will adjust around you
And you can
Send it on its way

© Lance Giroux, January 2013

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