I was hiking with a friend in Yosemite. Let’s call her Sara… It was a lovely morning, the weather was warm but not hot. There were a few clouds in the sky and we were both looking forward to a day on the trail. We were going to pass Mirror lake on the way to a more challenging trail. We were both looking forward to to the views we were likely to see that day, the fresh air and the sense of accomplishment of a great and challenging hike. The outdoors has a restorative effect and I was not disappointed. When we arrived at mirror lake we marveled at the crystal clear reflection. This was sure to be a great day!
As we were admiring the view a young boy, who was hiking with his family, skipped a rock onto the lake and soon his brothers were following suit. As the first skip hit the surface of the water the ripples on the lake radiated out. The rock skipped again and again. one, two, three.. I counted seven skips! Seven! That had to feel like an accomplishment. His brother was not quite as successful and only managed three. Like a golfer who had just made a great shot, the boy was encouraged to skip several more rocks trying again for a good run.
Sara was outraged. How could the parent even allow their son to throw rocks at this perfect reflection on this perfect day, she huffed. As the rock throwing continues she took it upon herself to address the parent and the boys. “Don’t you see that we are all trying to enjoy the view. The perfect reflection! Now it is all ruined!” As she was deliberating with the family I winked at the boys and pointed to the fish rushing to hide in the landscape under the surface. Rocks, logs, mud and plants formed a different landscape that is hidden under the reflection. Muddy, overgrown and full of algae, rocks and dirt -a fish haven. But as soon as I could take in the revealing of this hidden fish paradise the ripples were dissipating and the reflection returned.
As we started on the rest of our hike, I took a last look at the reflection and set my sights for the views ahead. It was sure to be a great day! Sara muttered under her breath about the inconsideration of people and common decency for a couple more miles. After a few miles through wooded areas and steep rocky trails, new perfection came into view and it seems as if the day was restored.
It seems as if it is always other people who cause the ripples and threaten the clarity and perfection of our surface. But in focusing on that, what do we miss about what can be learned and appreciated under the surface? The boy skipping stones is a story, and we all have stories for why things are not perfect or right or even going our way. Our own stories can be hard to see and as a coach I help my clients see their stories, look at what is underneath and transform through self love.
Disclaimer -This story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred. Except Yosemite and mirror lake are real places, and it’s fun to skip stones there too.