“What do you see in your mind?” Someone asked me today. “When you’re feeling good. When you’re feeling strong.” She told me she sees a tree. She didn’t even have to get into the deep roots and the sturdy stances. It was about how hurricanes and other storms come and go, but still the trees can stand. And yet, a bad wind or a freaky Thanksgiving snowstorm can break those trees with a snap of the fingers. Microbursts and tornadoes pass through. Some trees are no match for so many forces.
I said I see a mountain. I always have. Mental health has always been about mountains for me, since the time I woke up from a bad dream when I was three-years-old in which a mountain was rising out of the ground and coming for me too fast. I was in the air, of course, and it was looking to knock me back to the earth. I got out of bed and got my father and he read me a Getalong Gang book until I drifted off to a scary-mountain-less sleep. I became in awe of mountains, and never again in fear. I was always afraid of around and around, but never of firmly up and down. I was always just a bit afraid of tides and currents and being pulled under, but I learned not to be afraid of being pulled up. That’s one of the last memories I have of him.
People ask me a lot if I prefer the ocean or the mountains. I always say mountains, but I like that there can be both at once. It’s just what I always picture, no matter what. When I close my eyes at night, I check to see that it’s still there for me. Since that night. If I picture strength and beauty. Solitude and growth. I see that same mountain, but it’s slowed down in my mind.
It’s ancient and timeless. The trees that make up the mountains are the ones that come and go. And they do fall to hurricanes or avalanches, but the mountain still stands. That’s the way I see my mountain. Sometimes it’s so covered in fog that I can’t see it at all, save for just a bit. The tip? Sometimes I can’t even see that little bit. I just hope it’s there. I just know.
Even when it seems as far away as The Alps. Even when I suffer in a silent fog and I can’t see all around me. Other days, other months, other years – it’s just there. It’s sharp. It’s clear. It’s telling me it was always there all along. I didn’t look enough.
Work and money and disease and love and new connections and upcoming trips and holidays and fear. I feel very ill-prepared. Plane rides and new friends and desire and boredom and chocolate.. too much chocolate.. and feeling tired and cold.