Views from the Top
Beginning the journey of therapy can be a lot like starting out on an exciting, yet intimidating expedition. It reminds me of a recent time where I embarked on a particularly challenging hike here in the Pacific Northwest…
A friend and I saved Seattle’s quintessential trek up Mt. Si as our last trail of the season. We headed out early on a Sunday morning and traversed the I-90 corridor with ease when we arrived at our destination, circled the dirt lot and parked close to the trail head. I gathered it was going to be a cold start to our hike as the evening’s darkness rolled back for the light of dawn. I opened my car door and instantly saw my breath in the crisp autumn air. Gearing up for what would be a challenging 10-mile adventure, I loaded up with food and water, zipped up my rain jacket and slipped my arms through the straps of my backpack.
Reviews of this particular hike indicated that it was popular for many reasons. First of all, it is conveniently close to Seattle which makes it highly accessible. Also, the trail is straightforward enough for a beginner to complete and score bragging rights, but also challenging enough for the expert hiker to use as practice. As we started off and began climbing the initial steep incline, we wondered if our fellow hikers had it right and the struggle would be worth it in the end. We encountered frequent switchbacks with no relief in elevation gain. There were felled trees with large roots and small creeks that took some fancy footwork to navigate.
However, even though we began hiking in near darkness, and the terrain was challenging, it wasn’t long before the sun was peaking up in the east and rising quickly to pierce through the dense forest of pines surrounding us on all sides. The thick leafy ferns at the base of the forest were begging to be dried by its light. We warmed up breaking a sweat as we ascended the mountain.
We continued to put one foot in front of the other, breathing in and out, perspiring and propelling ourselves forward. And within a couple of hours, the sun was high in the sky and we had reached the summit.
When we paused at the top, we were deliriously surprised by the view of Mt. Rainier peeking through the nearby Cascades. We had understood this trail to be popular but finally realized that its reputation was due to a magnificently rewarding view at the end!
As I reflect on this latest hiking adventure, I can’t help but see the correlation of this quest to the experience of what doing therapy feels like. The challenge initially begins by finding a therapist who is accessible and one with consistent availability. Then, when we find ourselves in the office, the work begins. We might be there because we have found ourselves in a dark and cold place. We set out and begin sharing our stories with a trusted professional and the work feels risky and steep and challenging. We might even question if the effort is worth it. But session after session, week after week, a light starts to rise up within us and shine. Others around us take notice and begin to also receive the benefits of our newly found illuminations. We are propelled to new heights by insights into our lives and our histories; things start to get clearer and make more sense. And just when we are getting the hang of it and we feel like we are making progress in our lives, we see it: the reward after all the labor is a magnificent view of…ourselves!
If you’re looking to embark on an exciting, though challenging adventure, find a therapist who is both consistently available and conveniently located to join you on your quest to discover more about yourself.