The Mountains Beckon
Each time I leave for the mountains, I am always certain to return with yet another incredible experience. In fact, my memory bank is filled with remembrances of the time I have spent in the mountains ...conquests, defeats, courage, rescues, helplessness, fright and even despair.
Dark nights of isolation, hostile terrain, unpredictable harsh weather, long and agonizing climbing. In spite of being completely aware of the forbidding conditions and once, a close brush with death, I still want to keep going up there. Each time higher than before. This must be that 'mountain sickness' I was told to be careful about.
For long I have been dismissed as a misanthrope, an escapist, a neurotic. But the truth is ...well I don't know it myself.
I might be a 'Seeker'. Searching for the ultimate experience, the deepest euphoria or the extremes of fear ...looking for a fulfillment of life through experiences. I believe life enriched with experiences brings depth to it. After all, it's not how long but how deep your life is.
For long I have questioned whether there is sapience in insanity. Madness can let you go.it's when you can go beyond. It's the overemphasized 'rationality' within, which surfaces during your crucial moments just to hold you back. One way to reach the depths of existence is to take your chances. For me, that was the only way I knew to grow.
I don't mean to glorify dangerous living. But tell me, where do you find success without risk ? Risk is more than just the joy of survival. It heightens perceptions and personal abilities. In some cases, it's a way of overcoming personal inadequacy. In most instances, it's mind over matter that has separated glory from failure. After all, the only intrinsic reward is neither value nor fame. It's the profound feeling deep within.
The intensity of that 'feeling' drives the mountaineer beyond physical limits. Some of my endeavors in the mountains simply surprise me.
Most of my buddies are ardent mountaineers. Each time before a long haul, there are tears in the eyes of their near ones and the same tears roll when they return, a poignant reminder that 'mountains give and mountains take', and we know this truth.
It's what they give ...what they have given me ...a reason to look ahead. I can recall my first day in the mountains when I deeply regretted my late introduction to the magic of mountain life. I was 21, then. Believe I have lost few early years of climbing for good. Damn! I could have started earlier.
Somehow, the changes within me have been transcendental in nature. The spiritual effect seemed magical because it was almost instantaneous. The purity of the surroundings, the sound of silence, the drama in the skies and the uninhibited state of self, built a world of openness around me.
I felt like a child in the arms of Mother Earth. Enveloped by the surroundings of total delight, my eyes, my ears and my mind sensed purity.
I wasn't sure what I was looking for. But what I have found brings me happiness and everything ends in it. It's a romantic freedom.
I am not surprised that I have gained a philosophical perspective of life. Like the stillness of mountain peaks, my mind is calm. I have been moved by the real world, the hidden paradise. Somehow, I think, just to be a part of the goodness up there, I must match it with the goodness within me. I must belong.
Mountaineering is a culture. It is deeply seeped in ethics and ideals. It symbolises how closely man and nature are intertwined together. Climbing is a tradition that exhibits the spirit of mankind. It's a sacred feeling where the only reward is within your heart. I know no other religion.
The sheer size and magnificence of the mountains with its peaks lost in the clouds is a sight that can leave anyone breathless. The might of nature reminds me of the sheer insignificance of man. I have stood still for hours just gazing at the play of the Mountain Gods. I have seen Heaven meet Earth. I have seen the bridge between divinity and reality. I have seen it. I have been there.
The only place where time comes to a standstill.
Photo Credit: Somit Doshi
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.