Photo Credit: Ken Jordan

A Changed Perspective

[April 30, 2018]

Passing the Ranger cabin at Abol, firm gravel beneath my feet, and aware of a towering canopy of 100 foot tall pine trees ahead. They seemed a good metaphor for the immensity of human problems and struggles, a good metaphor for what I had been feeling.  When crises present themselves, it's easy to become stuck in darkness and lose hope, similar to having the warm sunlight blocked by the trees.  As quickly as that thought came, it floated on, replaced by a painful chorus from my burning quads... 

Time passed, the terrain changed and the hike became even more grueling.  Looking back I could see only dense fog over the valley out of which we had just ascended.  I thought, "Hmm I can't see anything good from where I've been, and so pain remained my only stimulation."  I continued the climb, paying less and less attention to the whining muscles in my legs, as I became more focused on my breathing. 

Soon it was time for some water, and, as I turned to look back, I was rendered speechless to realize that the fog had dissipated, and for miles, I could see the valley I had walked through far below.  That stand of 100 foot tall Pines that I viewed from below at Abol trail-head, now seemed like ants to me, it was then that something clicked within me.  "The trees (representing my recent negative experiences) were still a hundred feet tall, yet from my new vantage point, they were now infinitely easier to begin comprehending, assessing and accepting."  What had seemed humongous and impossible to comprehend in the smallness of my original perspective, became manageable after expending some effort to change my perspective. 

What Katahdin gave to me was this lesson, "Though I cannot change the immensity of challenging times or personal loss, what I have control over, is putting forth the effort required to change my perspective."   Is it easy changing your perspective?  Hell no... I can tell you it was really painful gaining the altitude required for perspective over those pines below.  But in the end, the effort required by Katahdin that day, was a small price to pay for the peace that new perspective brought.  It is  cliche, but when we work to change our perspective, what previously towered over us in the midst of despair, becomes like grass under our feet... Take my word for it, Katahdin will change you for the better.

- Jonathan Heath, Vassalboro, ME