Me: Stand on there and I can take a picture of you for my website….
My sister, mother of three, family law solicitor, seeker-out and destroyer of bullshit: I can see Blencathra!
Me: OK, so look over there and think about Blencathra as a metaphor for your life and career….
Picture taken, and we begin to pick our way down the hill. A few seconds pass.
My sister: Blencathra as a metaphor for my life and career?
Me: I thought I got off lightly….
The landscape has an astonishing capacity to inspire us. Remarkable places like the Lakeland Fells especially so. Seeing the snow-speckled saddle of Blencathra shining away in the distance from Lingmore Fell is an uplifting sight, that’s for sure. But a metaphor for your life and career? Making forced comparisons between our inner mind and aspects of the outer landscape puts us (ahem) on shaky ground.
But, here’s the thing; our inner and out landscape do reflect one another. You can see it in the everyday language we use. We might find ourselves on shaky ground, as we did a moment ago on Blencathra. We might seek a clear view or engage in some blue sky thinking. We could be plodding along, moving mountains, or not be able to see the wood for the trees….. Daily conversation is peppered with images and ideas from landscape and the way we experience it, which is surprising for people who live mainly in towns and cities. And if we bring the landscape into everyday life, it follows that we bring everyday life into the landscape. Whether our spirit soars in lofty mountain grandeur or sinks during a rainy riverside trudge depends as much on our inner thoughts and feelings was it does on the actual environment and conditions. There’s a local hill that gives me a fabulous birdseye view of the town where I live. My desire for a little perspective on my life is overlaid onto an actual perspective of the place where it’s lived.
So back to Blencathra. You might, when you are out walking, ask yourself if there is anything in the landscape that really speaks to you. Describe what you see. That description will reflect your emotional response as well as your descriptive powers. Is there anything that you can see that helps you to visualise where you want to be in life? Or that reflects your current reality?
I remember a coaching session when someone was describing how they wanted things to flow – a rigid routine wouldn’t work. They needed to allow for obstacles and adjustments in everyday life, but keep moving forwards nonetheless. We noticed we were standing by a stream. Holding that metaphor in your mind can be a useful way to carry the coaching session forward into when you are back in everyday life. But I don’t think that you should force it. That way lies Blencathra as a metaphor for your life and career.