When John Muir wrote, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity,” he was speaking to the fact that we are nature and to be separate from nature is to do ourselves a great disservice. Mountains are areas of natural elevation that we humans often stand in awe and fear of, as they are larger, more grand, and more ancient than we can possibly imagine. These mountain ranges, with their peaks and heights and cascades, have a lot to teach us about our own struggles with addiction.
Oftentimes at the beginning of a recovery journey, life can feel impossible. We look up and see that there’s so much work to be done, so much change to be made, that we fear it might be easier to give up. When we get outside and climb a mountain, the same sorts of feelings arise. We feel small, insignificant, and perhaps slightly exhilarated at the prospect of the climb towards the top. When you begin the the climb, it can take a while to gain perspective, to get the truly invigorating reward of a view from the top. The muscles ache while the body trudges, carrying its belongings and hopes. Finally, we reach a summit and look down at the progress we’ve made. There’s a view that is much different from the one at sea level and we can see our trials and hardships with new light. They seem slightly smaller from here. Though, there’s still work to be done so we rest and keep climbing, pausing every so often to look back. Perhaps we don’t make it to the top the first time and that’s okay, as our bodies and minds are learning the climb, getting intimate with the mountain’s nuances and geological underpinnings. When we finally make it to the top, the view is better than we could have imagined. We breathe the clear, elevated air and exhale a sigh of peace, as we can practically see the whole world from way up here.
Recovery is an ongoing process, filled with peaks, valleys, exhilaration, and despair. Getting out in nature and using its myriad metaphors and literal wonders will help with this intense and rewarding journey. There will always be another mountain to climb and we are never finished. However, the work is worth it and nature will make the road sweeter. As John Muir reminds us, “…going to the mountains is going home.”
RedCliff Ascent is a therapeutic wilderness program, nestled between two mountain ranges in the high desert of Enterprise, UT. We focus on adolescents ages 13-17 who are struggling with various challenges from anxiety and depression, to school abandonment and the need to reconnect with their family. With over 25 years of experience, RedCliff uses a relational model and narrative therapy to drive an outcome and an evidence-based approach. RedCliff Recovery offers an experience like no other through a proven, 12-step, adventure-based wilderness program. For more information, call us today: 801-921-8488.