I am midway through my afternoon run and there are acorns everywhere. At first I dodge them, with each footstep landing safely on surrounding leaves or bare spots on the crack-filled sidewalk. But soon there are too many. My irritation grows. Stupid acorns! Where the hell did all these come from anyway? My feet are landing on them now. Thick crunching like bones breaking. As I continue on my journey I begin to wonder what has me so worked up about these acorns? What did they ever do to you, Kristina? I ask myself. But the funny thing about that question is that the answer is usually, Nothing, they just remind me of me.
And that’s the thing. Sometimes I am the acorns. Sitting, waiting to be consumed, to offer some life-sustaining yet temporary nutrition to the next eager squirrel or burrowing insect. I give. I give and I give and I give but it’s never enough. I allow whoever needs me to take whatever it is that they need. I give crisis support to my therapy clients, encouragement, quick behavioral fixes to keep someone from the next terrible consequence that could lead their life to spiral all the more out of control. I become the bridge over waterways, use myself to fill the potholes on the dangerous roads leading to anywhere. I am the acorn.
I give all that I have and it is never enough. And when I finally sit, when I finally come home, I am nothing but a shell. My eyes are empty, pits leading to a bleak and tired soul wrung out like a wet rag and left in the shadows.
Experts call this compassion fatigue. I call it being-a-damn-acorn-too-much.
But being an acorn has reminded me that sometimes, though, I am more than an acorn. Sometimes, I remember to be a mountain.
When I am a mountain, I am not merely consumed and left an empty shell. I am grounded and strong. Instead of being tossed around by the breeze or snatched up to be used or stored away for some winter food supply, I am secure, present, here. I am offering instead of fixing. I am the mountain.
I am there for those in need of a drink from my clean springs, a view of my color-dancing sunsets, a rest under the quiet steady shade of my coniferous forests. And if they choose not to take what I am offering, I am still here, if they change their mind later. That’s the thing about offering.
I provide the space and the safe footing needed for climbers to journey up the path to healing, self actualization, underlying changes in self belief. I guide and I ensure the lighting along the safe path, but nothing more. I leave the choices up to the climber as I celebrate each and every one of his small victories. I am the mountain.
I am a part of the big picture. No quick fixes. No handouts. I have become meaningful, sustaining. I am grounded in the knowledge that I am not the source of it all. I gather my strength from the firm foundation rested in my beliefs, values, insights, faith, prayer, meditation, advice, and experience woven into the very fibers of my being. I am firm yet I have a heart beat, I pulsate with strength from what matters. I am the mountain.
I rest and yet I am here. I offer and yet I am here. I celebrate and yet I am here. I create the space for healing, recovery, growth, change, and yet I am still here.
When I am the mountain, I close my eyes and my heart sings with the morning birds. My hopes fly through the crisp breeze dancing on the orange painted leaves of change. The clouds of doubt, disappointment, and suffering will come, casting shadows over the rocky ravines and wildflower meadows, but underneath, I am still the mountain. I am not the source. I am not everything. But I am still the mountain.
I am sitting there watching diligently feeling anticipation and pending regret as the tattoo ink mixes with tiny spurts of my blood leaving my wrist. The tattoo artist wipes away the black and red fluid revealing the final product, and there they are. Three tiny mountain tops resting along the pulse line of my wrist. Three tiny mountain tops that remind me: I can always choose to be the mountain, and being a mountain is all that I need to be.