A few weeks ago when the first snow of Winter reached the lower peaks of the Swiss Alps, we went out for a winter wander.
It was cold, the fresh air gently nipped at our faces, the sun was shining. It was lovely. And we enjoyed a truly beautiful and spectacular snow hike surrounded by stunning mountains as well as ski-ers, sleighers and fellow-hikers. Until, that was, my husband decided to go a bit off track and follow a snow-shoe route... we were in hiking boots.
Thankfully the snow wasn't deep but it was a bit of an uphill, slippery struggle. And it wasn't much fun.
A few days later we took a chair lift up another peak for another winter wander. The path this time was a bit more undulating and, therefore, a bit more difficult to walk. So I have to admit, I didn't enjoy that adventure too much.
And when my husband started planning a third winter wander, I asked him to wait for a bit.
You see, I didn't grow up in a country where every Winter thick, crisp snow covered the mountains and valleys in a blanket of crunchy whiteness. I grew up where, about 2 weeks each year, we had slush - a kind of wet, failed attempt at snow.
So although you'd think that snow that glistened in the sun like diamonds would be a joy to someone like me, it wasn't. Simply because I wasn't used to walking on it and was always having to focus on putting one foot in front of the other.
Then, last week, our crampons arrived and we headed out for a short test walk to see if they made any difference. Wow! What a difference! No more slipping and sliding. No more having to be careful where you placed your foot. No more standing at the top of a slight decline and praying you wouldn't fall on your ass halfway down.
Finally we could enjoy walking on snow. Finally we could lift our heads up and admire the beautiful scenery all around us. Finally we could enjoy nature again.
But this whole experience made me think: Why can't we just be happy?
There I was in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, walking in a stunningly beautiful area... and all I could do was look down at my feet incase maybe, just maybe I might slip, fall and make a fool of myself. I mean, seriously, how was walking, looking at the ground, going to make placing one step in front of the other any safer? If I was going to fall I was going to fall whether I was looking at my feet or at the majestic view ahead of me.
It was only when I felt confident in my new crampons that I was able to raise my head and enjoy the breathtaking views around me. I won't go back and repeat the two earlier winter wanders so whatever amazing scenery I missed when I was there staring at my feet, I'll miss forever. That's a shame.
And that reminds me of the way we often look at ourselves.
So often we miss the natural beauty that's staring us in the face because we're so focused on a tiny wrinkle or a minute skin-tag, or something we deem to be an imperfection.
At times we become so consumed by the tiny perceived imperfection that we blow it out of all proportion and the only way we can, again, see beauty in ourselves is by eradicating it through some kind of medical procedure or by injecting chemicals into our skin.
Why can't we look at ourselves, our body, our face and honestly and truly admire the changes that have happened over the years? Rather than dismiss them as faults that need to be reversed or corrected, why can't we look at them as evidence of a life that has been lived, of fond memories where we laughed until our sides hurt, of marks left behind as a result of the miracle of giving life to another being?
As Scott Westerfeld so succinctly puts it: "Nature didn't need an operation to be beautiful. It just was"
We're part of nature so why can't we enjoy the amazing person we have grown to become?