I recently completed my Mountain Leader Summer training, which involved six days of walking and camping in the Cairngorms. It was brilliant, and I hope it will lead me to be able to guide others out into the outdoors, and show them the fundamental importance of a connection with nature in our lives.
Before, during and after the training I have been thinking more and more about journeys that we animals make. In particular, the parallels that exist between the journey of our lives, and the smaller journeys that we make within that; the parallels between macro and micro. For example, the daily commute which we feel is dull, repetitive and slow (i.e. the micro journey), can mirror the dull and repetitive point that we have reached in our lives (i.e. the macro journey).
So, within my own life's journey the questions keep returning: what is my direction? Am I on the 'right' course? What is my destination? These questions could just as well be asked when out walking, as well as being applied to my life. So, on Cairngorm, I looked behind me to see where I had come from, and then in front of me to see where I could go. I could see the summit of Cairngorm, but there were many ways to get there, and actually my destination did not have to be the summit of the mountain. This looking around also gave me perspective on where I was at that moment: in-between Lochan na Beinne, and the peak of Carn Lochan na Beinne. Hence, I knew where I was, where I had been, and where I could go. This mountain journey mirrored the way in which I go through life: evaluating the journey so far; looking to where I am going; and trying to stay on track by looking around to see what landmarks there are.
However, my aunt taught me that life is not a linear journey, but rather a meandering path which evolves as we walk. I left school thinking that I had to have a specific direction in life, but as I got older, I saw that there is a richness is sometimes only having short-term goals; sometimes changing where I see myself in five years time; and sometimes allowing myself to simply drift and see where things around me (not that I'm very good at that mind!).
So coming back to therapy, the journey that we travel through life, and the journey that we take through therapy is another example of the parallel journeys. This can be a journey of words, emotions, stories, and (in the outdoors) a physically walked journey. And this is what therapy is: a shared journey with a another person (the therapist) through your life, and through what you have experienced. The route is chosen by you, but the relationship with the therapist will slightly alter that, so that the journey becomes co-created. Carl Rogers was known to describe person-centred therapy as a walk along a beach with the client walking side-by-side with the therapist. I imagine the client to be walking slightly in front of the therapist, leading him/her through the landscape of themselves. And the therapist is there for support, encouragement and elucidation if needed
I wonder what journey has led you to where you are right now?