Noticing Load + Incline

“Gorilla Cart” is a brand and it’s essentially a beefed-up version of a metal garden cart you pull to move things around. The one I have has a mesh bottom, steel side rails, pneumatic tires, and can support a load up to 800 pounds. Mine is five years old now and has had a lot of use. Actually, it’s pretty abused—most notably, I used it to move over 2000 stones when I built the Forest Labyrinth over the course of summer 2019.

I also use it a lot to move firewood, which feels almost as heavy as stones depending on the type of tree. Having pneumatic tires and wheels with bearings helps it move freely but when it’s fully loaded… I would guess 400+ pounds… it’s still a good workout to pull.

Something I noticed one fine autumn day when pulling a full cart of cut logs from out of the bush to the splitter is the effect of incline. I quickly became aware of it on a path, though the gradient so slight I had never before even realized it was there, when pulling a heavy load. Wow, what a difference—a clear and instant slowdown in and rise in effort.

Later that day, heavy work behind me and a self-rewarding craft-brew in hand, it got me to thinking about the analogy between load plus incline and life. Sometimes we don’t realize we are under heavy load (i.e., stresses of one type or another) until we hit an incline. Steep hills we can see in advance and either prepare, off-load and/or consider alternatives. But it can be those gentle inclines that catch us by surprise and, as a result, may suddenly catapult us to not being our best or most resilient self.

When trucks are moving slowly up a hill, they put on their 4-way flashers to warn motorists around them. When trains move through hilly terrain, they often add a locomotive. Are there metaphors for useful life strategies to be found in that?

One thing we can do is try to manage load. How many balls are we juggling on any particular day and can any of them be put down, even if only temporarily, so the others can remain in the air? Back to the truck analogy, we can also do our best to ensure the “engine” which powers us (and I mean not only our physical being but also the soul and other subtle energies) is well maintained and in good running order. And, like the trains, recognizing when it is time to ask for help.

But being watchful for “incline”, whatever forms that takes in our day-to-day life, is just as important as managing load and maintaining the engine. Especially when it comes to those inclines which may be imperceptible until the moment we meet them while under load, mindful awareness is the key.

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