Hiking and metaphorical landscapes

Sometimes you just have to keep moving

Update and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt, Hiking.org

Drawing of a hiker, crossing a river over a fallen tree trunk
Crossing over a river can be both a feeling, a metaphor and a real place in life

Hiking is a great place to study metaphors in real life. And one of the metaphors you are very likely to meet several times on the hiking trails are the “transition-places”. They are all about crossing over from one reality or state of mind to a different. The bridge is the easy archetype one, but sometimes, there is no bridge and you have to take your chances getting across from one place to another one, and most hikers know the feeling of doubt out there, wondering, half way, if this was such a good idea

Landscapes of feelings

In this way “the crossing” is not only a place along the hiking trails, it is also a feeling, an understanding of where you are, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally.

It can be a place on a mountain, but at the same time, it can be a description of the feeling you have when leaving one job for another, or taking chances with new activities, moving or experiencing changes in a relationship etc. Situations where you carefully and slowly move one small inch at a time, while your mind is wide open and your heart beats frantically

Hiking can help you deal with these situations in other places

The very strange thing is that facing that REAL mountain stream, moving over a fragile, fallen tree trunk can, in ways not fully understood, help you deal with the not so real rivers and fallen tree trunks of life.

Psychologists are still baffled about this, but it seem that somehow the strategies we use and the feeling of accomplishment we experience, when having successfully made it across difficult places out in the wilderness, will in strange ways make us much better and more competent at passing over difficult metaphorical rivers along tree-trunks in our off-trail life as well.

Hiking.org drawings of some classic transition places along the trails:



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