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Surefooted - inspired by image by Nicole Noksana (with permission)

“Just like a mountain goat climbing very steep and dangerous land to lick salt from the rocks, man also should take high risks to get what he wants!”— Mehmet Murat Ildan

A little under half of the Canadian population of Mountain Goats live in BC according to the government of BC website. God created these animals to dominate the mountains tops, giving them huge strong shoulder muscles, low center of gravity and traction pads in their hooves to grip the rocky slopes these animals inspire many to strive to new heights. These animals are naturally surefooted, able to adjust easily to changes in the rocky ground they tread allowing them to climb higher and away from danger.

New Heights - inspired by photo by Collin Ball Photography (with permission)

I recently watched an episode of "Transplant" where a mountain climber explained to his doctor—while sitting on the brick railing at the top of the hospital building—that no one was actually afraid of heights, they were afraid of falling. I thought about that and realized that fear can be translated into many parts of our lives. Do we take risks to get what we want? Or is our fear of falling, of failing, preventing us from reaching upwards? And if we fall, do we give up? In the episode the patient had fallen, but that didn't prevent him from wanting to continue to climb, and this encouraged the doctor to push past some of his own fears to take another step towards his dream.

About 6 months ago I fell, missed a single stair, broke a toe & sprained the other ankle so badly that I was on crutches, then a cane for 4 months. In January I finally was able to walk again without a cane for short distances, and yesterday I went for my first walk in the woods (on uneven ground) with the dogs since the winter set in. My toe healed a bit crooked and doesn't bend the same as it used to, but it's functional. It has taken time to regain strength and flexibility to feel that I could handle taking a step where I was not sure of my footing.

Look where you want to go.
“Being sure-footed is also about paying attention and maintaining the right vision, intention and attitude. You will always benefit from spending time in thought and prayer about where you’re headed and why it matters that you get there.”— Mozella Ademiluyi

There is more to climbing than simply being surefooted, more to goals then blindly leaping upward. Mountain goats have that figures out, those horizontal rectangular pupils give them a wide angle view of there surroundings. Does that have something to do with there spectacular leaps from ridge to ridge? Funny how it seems to come back to the eyes.

It's so much easier for to be daring when one can see where they will land, but in life that's not always possible. The un-seeable can catch the most surefooted off guard. In 2020 word of the year was "pivot". With each of us having to adjust to changes brought on by the pandemic, we were forced to be flexible, to have to leap from plan to avoid danger, to pivot. To pivot is not just to take a side step, it's a full on change in focus, be it permanent or temporary. Only a few animals can change direction in mid jump and humans are not one of them, it's a challenge enough to pivot in mid stride, especially when moving quickly. Tom Ryan wrote in and article on that a mountain goat can climb quickly - as fast as 1500 vertical feet in 20 minute,1.25 feet per second. According to wikipedia the worlds fastest wall climber is Veddriq Leonardo who completed the 15 meter (49.22 foot) climb in 4.90 seconds, 3.06 feet per second. So I think it's fair to say that the goat is making sure his next step is sure, is paying attention and making sure his vision is sure.

“Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sometimes a step in faith is needed, sometimes we don't have a fully defined plan before we begin to move forward. In painting it's only by making a mess, putting colour on a clean page and seeing where it takes you, that defines what you're capable of. I often say to new artists "it's only paper" but I know when used my first 300 pound professional artist paper, for my 45 minute Owl Magic painting, I was again a bundle of nerves as I was about to potentially turn an expensive item into rubbish. And I had to let go, allow myself to fall a few times, before I got my footing and reached the vision I was aspiring towards. And that was just the first in a series of steps on the staircase of my artists path.

Artistic growth isn't a single stair, or even a staircase, it's a continual journey. So I choose not to focus on some impossibly far away end result, instead I pay attention to this step, this leap of faith, this mountain. And move forward with thought, prayer and courage.

“Creativity takes courage.” – Henri Matisse

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