On the Trail: Got neurosis?
November 2, 2006
“Meditation is like going to the toilet; it’s not what you take away, it’s what you leave,” an old meditation teacher of mine used to say.I recently moved near the base of Smuggler Mountain, and my meditation during these muddy pre-ski weeks is trudging up the slope and jogging down. Early morning, late afternoon, even on moonlit nights to look out over the twinkling lights of Aspen. I usually go up with a head full of static and neurosis, but a little heart pumping and muscle strain seems to help. And while the short hike doesn’t bring answers to my questions and problems, the questions and problems just seem to change or go away. And I know I’m not alone in this.”I don’t care if it’s the wrong tile, I need a kitchen floor, dammit!” one lady shrieked into her cell phone as she went past the other day. “Is that what he said?” an incredulous young woman asked her friend, as the two bounced down the trail. “Didn’t he know you knew? Gawd!”I couldn’t help hear about one woman’s trials with online dating as she ascended the switchbacks, and lots of people seem to be struggling with their misbehaving animals. “Trevor, sit! Sit, I said!” while Trevor pulls the leash and pounces on anything that passes. With this hodgepodge of the frustrated and agitated going up and down the busy slope, I see a need – a niche market.We could build a booth at the bottom of the hill, and post priests or mental health professionals wearing sturdy athletic shoes who could connect with the particularly disturbed and accompany them on their hike. Like “Reverends in Reeboks,” “Counselors of Cardio” or Lucy from the Peanuts cartoon with her “The Psychiatrist is in” sign.”What seems to be troubling you, my child?” or “And how did that make you feel?” would be all they’d have to say. Then it would be ready-set-go up the hill and the clients could talk out their issues and their problems (or their sins).There would never be that deflating, “I’m sorry, but we’re out of time,” because you’d know the session was up when you got back to the bottom. Then just a quick $150 to the counselor or a prescription of Hail Marys and Our Fathers from the priest and you’d be free, absolved, ready to return to the rat race, the family and the community.County and city governments could fund the counselors or at least provide them footwear and “hunter orange” hats for the fall, and it could become a nonprofit if Referendum 1A passes.Whatever happens, I’ll keep taking my neurosis to the mountain.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org