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Clean Slates, Mountain Peaks and Divorce.

by | Apr 12, 2024 | Personal Blogs

I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the last couple of weeks roaming the rolling green hills of Ireland, chasing rainbows, exploring castle ruins which seemed to pop up around each bend, and enjoying a pint or two of Guinness along the way.  Passing through the northwestern part of Ireland there lies a mountain peak called Croagh Patrick where it is said that St. Patrick once made a barefoot pilgrimage to its rocky peak then spent 40 days and 40 nights there fasting in contemplation.  It is said that upon making the pilgrimage and ascending to the peak that one is absolved of their sins and can return to their life waiting for them below with a clean slate.  This week’s blog is not about spiritual beliefs or pilgrimages.  Instead, it is about the simple truth that we never have to remain mired in whatever negative things have happened in our past.   We don’t have to climb a distant mountain peak in a foreign country to have the ability to wake up in the morning with a new perspective, a fresh start and a new lease on life.  


Climbing Croagh PatrickI woke up early with my son and daughter who joined me on this excursion so we could be at the base of the mountain at first light.  It is only about a 4 ½ mile hike but in that short distance it climbs about 2,400 feet so pretty much the entire way up it is a very steep incline.  The last half mile or so consists of uneven stone steps that feel like you are almost going straight up.  The payoff with the quick ascent is beautiful views.  By the time we got up to the very top we were in the clouds, so didn’t get to see the full panorama.  A church has been built at the very top of the mountain.  We were met there by a freezing, howling wind.  We bundled up and used the church as a windbreak the best we could to have a moment to ponder this place, but soon decided it was time to head back down.  Once we dropped back down out of the clouds the temperatures were comfortable and the views were spectacular.


What a notion, that in a few hours of hiking you can clear away whatever transgressions of your past and walk away into your life that awaits below with a clean slate and a fresh start.  Us humans seem to be the only creatures  that beat ourselves up over our past failings and allow ourselves to accumulate the stresses of our yesterdays that we carry as a weight on our shoulders as we move toward the future.  Why do we do that to ourselves?  Beating ourselves up and hanging onto our past shortcomings is a choice we make.  We can climb to the top of a mountain and forgive ourselves for our past and come down happy, or not.  We can do the same thing simply in our wakings each morning.  Each day is the first day of the rest of our life.  Whether we start that day with the weight of yesterday on our shoulders or we start it with no luggage from the past, either is our decision to make.  Why would we ever choose to continue with the heavy load?


Divorce often comes with a bunch of baggage.  There is a lot of emotional stuff to work through.  It is a lot easier said than done to move past the bumps and bruises to a place where you can entertain giving yourself a clean slate.    In the end, giving yourself that permission is your decision.  It is pretty neat to be able to clear the slate each morning and start forward again with nothing holding you back.  I did make it to the top of Croagh Patrick and felt a little lighter on the way back down.  Life is too short to be less happy because of whatever happened yesterday.  We have every ability to leave our past behind and the moment we learn to start doing so is the moment we get to begin living life anew, with the limitless possibilities of the new day stretched out before us.