Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Hiking: A Matter of Perspective

Mokelumne River as seen from Middle Bar Bridge
New Melones Reservoir, Table Mt hike, Jamestown, CA

Table Mt., Jamestown, CA

Lake Hogan, CA

Indian Warrior Princess, EBMUD trail
Valley Springs, CA
I haven't done a hiking post in awhile though I have been hiking. Winter and early Spring are the perfect times in my area for lower elevation hiking. The weather is just right for being outside: cool, high 40's to 50's, maybe some sun and clouds but more likely to be overcast. This year it has been particularly rainy so getting outside has been tricky. It pays to have a flexible schedule so that responding to the forecast is easy.

The first pic shows an area that I enjoy quite a bit, the Middle Bar section of the Mokelumne River watershed. There are several trails there that are challenging and which afford views of the river and the surrounding hillsides. The next two pics are from Table Mountain in Jamestown, about an hour or so away from me. The mountain formation is so distinctive and does indeed look like a tabletop. Once you get up there, the views are quite wonderful and include some of the peaks of Yosemite. The fourth shot sort of sums things up don't you think? And the last pic is from a walk on the Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail in Valley Springs where I live. 

There is just so much to see here and I feel so blessed to be able to hike around and have a look. Hiking not only provides beautiful scenery to enjoy but also presents the opportunity for thinking and reflecting. Just recently I had the chance to hike a section of one of the above trails on my own. Afterward, a new friend was kind enough to ask me what I had thought about while I was walking along. Honestly, not too much! I sort of just enjoyed the silence, listened to the birds and the breeze and kind of hummed to myself as I went about the business of walking. No heavy intellectual lifting in other words.

There are times though when I do work out things in my mind while walking or hiking. I think a bit harder. I know that paying attention to my surroundings is what I should be doing but really, my inner dialogue just gets going. 

Lately I have been thinking about the nature of problems, how considering different perspectives can serve as a coping strategy when things seem overwhelming. I love constructs, ideas or theories that are subjective and not objective. Constructs are how I figure things out, how I explain what I think and feel and how I sort out the reasons why people do what they do. It's useful to be able to build a theory and to make an intangible problem tangible. Here is an example of what I mean.

About a month ago I was told that I could have a problem. Without getting into what it is, I'll say that at first I agreed with the pronouncement. It does feel like I have something going on. So, I made a plan for getting more information about handling things. Hopefully I will know more soon. There isn't any real urgency though. It's not like having cancer or a toothache or some other acute medical issue where acting quickly is important. Time is not of the essence, so to speak, so there is the space to consider things. 

The lack of any time constraint allowed me to get down to some thinking. Can I handle things on my own for a bit? Is there anything I can do right now? The answer is yes, of course there is. I realized that apart from professional input, there is also the personal assessing of a problem. Thinking about the problem, what light to see it in, can be a matter of perspective. 

As a way to gain a kind of perspective on things, I have been putting an idea into action. Each day I have been asking myself some questions about the situation: Am I ahead of the problem, behind it or smack dab in the middle of it? I think this is a useful way of looking at things while you are waiting for other solutions to fall into place, particularly if you don't have control over those solutions. On some days, I feel like I am out in front. Things are getting  handled, I am taking positive steps to cope with things, maybe even get ahead, and every little bit of effort counts. On other days, I am far behind where I could be, where I would like to be. I accept those days and tell myself that tomorrow will be better. If I am feeling especially positive, I even look for ways to improve the situation right then. Mostly though I have my eye on a new day. That does help. I admit that there are lots of days when I am right in the middle of things. I can't see anything clearly, good or bad. It really is like purgatory in the sense that you are neither here, nor there. There are even some days when I feel that I am the problem. Those days aren't good. Again though, I just try to get some perspective by telling myself that improvement is possible and hopefully nothing is forever.

The above question and answer scenario is a construct to me. I love having theories about things, even if they  are scientifically unfounded, based more on my observations and interpretations. And I love things that actually work and this exercise does work. It's effective for me, a visual kind of person, because I can literally picture myself out in front, in the middle of, or behind a problem. My internal "gauge" tells me how I feel about things which helps in placing me on that spectrum of bad, somewhere in between, and good. And most importantly, I feel as if I have some kind of control in a situation where I am waiting for answers from People In Authority. 😏

My friend asked me what I was thinking about while hiking alone. Truthfully, it may be nothing or it may be something. My thoughts could be about the landscape, the birds and flowers, or my hiking buddies. Mostly though it is this other kind of thing, this "thinking" kind of thing where I am working on problems and ideas. Hiking provides a real freedom for exploring all sorts of landscapes, both inner and outer. And a chance to see if you are behind, in the middle or out in front!

Thank you for reading and if you have a comment, let me know:

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