“The mountains you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb” – Najwa Zebian
You know what happens when you rekindle a lost love for something or someone…? Ask yourself – what happens? It creates a bittersweet memory, doesn’t it? That’s exactly what happened to me when I visited the Kumaon Hills in April this year.
For a planner like me, who likes to plan everything in her life, guess what! Life gave me some of the biggest lessons – that you cannot plan; because while you plan – life happens to you. And when you’re stumbling and trying to regain your feet, one of the best ways to put things into perspective is to travel.
For a couple years since 2014, travel was a word that didn’t exist in my dictionary. I made the mistake of shunning it while fighting personal battles. By the time the battles ended, and the dust after the storm settled – I got a chance to work with the fantastic team at The Mountain Walker. I joined the tribe of mountain travellers on my first official collaboration, to visit Kumaon Hills and discover what the life up in the hills had to offer.
The journey was something to remember – traveling with a band of boys aged 29 – 35, with me being the eldest at 37. I was initially feeling very embarrassed, not sure if after all these years I still had it in me to travel again. I was an athlete in school and a decent swimmer. Being an army kid, my dad had ensured that I went camping often. But somewhere over the years – in the race to complete my education and make a career – everything that I loved got stacked away to gather dust on a shelf – and then, of course… Life happened.
When God closes one door, He opens another – but not always on the same floor. You have to take the stairs, a ladder, a rope or whatever, but each time, God makes the journey a tad bit more difficult for you. He throws in some extra weight (read – responsibilities) that you have to carry like a backpack – so that when you reach the summit you appreciate the view a lot more than you would have without all the weight to carry.
Now as a single mum, when I set out as a solo-entrepreneur, I realised I was starting the climb with two very highly intensive and demanding roles – so you can very well imagine my state. Both my babies are equally precious to me – with blood, sweat and tears I’ve raised my child who is just 4.5 years old, and my enterprise that is all of 6 years now.
But this story is not about me – it’s about my journey to the mountains that rekindled my lost love for travel; and especially when I stood in front of them, the mountains that made me realise how small my problems are.
As I stood there on the mountain slopes and looked up – remember, I had to LOOK UP AT THEM – I had to squint my eye, and their sheer size, their mere presence just shut me up. I felt that these huge creations of Mother Nature are much more than just natural boundary walls. They remind me how small my problems and me are.
That’s why I love the mountains. They don’t hide anything, unlike the seas. Even though I may swim in them, I wouldn’t trust the deep blue seas and oceans as I don’t know what monsters it may hide underneath – just like a person who can mask himself with a façade. I don’t like the unknown. Again, I’m a planner – I like to know what to expect if I take Plan A or a Plan B and for me, the sea is unnerving because it hides, whereas the mountains don’t.
The mountains have lessons to teach – to stand tall, strong and proud. They tell us how to weather a storm and block everything that could harm the ones that you love – including oneself. They teach us not to hide anything – to be honest with the world including oneself. They show us to protect, love and nurture those who come to us. The mountains remind you that sky is the limit; they teach you endurance, strength, compassion and how to love to oneself and to others.
Mountains remind us of how they’ve stood the test of time. They’ve witnessed great battles of the centuries and thousands of seasons. The mountains may have crumbled a little here and there, but they grow back and heal. They grow trees, shrubs and bushes and become homes to animals – which remind us that we can heal ourselves too and create an ecosystem for those around us.
The mountains remind us that our problems are not as big as they seem. They remind us that our egos are a tiny pebble when seen from the peak. They give us a whole new perspective towards life – of how things are when we are downhill and how they are when we turn around to climb and reach the peak.
The mountains acquaint us with the dangers with every step – they don’t fool us. They teach us focus – that one wrong step could take us straight down and cripple us. The mountains can be unforgiving that way – but that’s its nature. It doesn’t mollycoddle us or offer life on a platter. It gives us real life problems, which we learn to overcome as we climb. It shows us how life can get harsh with the change of seasons – from the brittle freezing winter winds to the harsh burning rays of the sun.
Can there be any better teacher than a mountain? I think not. Can there be anything bigger than a mountain? Only God. And what lies between – is you and me – the mortals who think no end of ourselves. With the cars we drive, with the brands we own – how foolishly we think that’s the peak – but in fact, the mountains that we climb are the ones within us that define who we are and not any inanimate object with a fancy price tag attached to it.