“It is always the same with mountains. Once you have lived with them for any length of time, you belong to them. There is no escape.” - Ruskin Bond.
I read these lines long before I had my first encounter with the Himalayas, but never understood the real meaning of those words until the mountains got me back into my skin and merged my soul with me.
Back in 2016, I signed up for my first high-altitude trek, not knowing exactly what it's gonna bring forth for me! After 10 long days of adventure - battling snowstorms and walking down postcard-perfect valleys, getting mesmerized by the sun-kissed peaks and the smell of wet earth - I realized that it would be practically impossible for someone to not fall in love with the Himalayas!
Since then, I've gone back to the mountains - sometimes for treks, and sometimes, to just relax and soak in the freshness, to unwind and rejuvenate my senses. Undoubtedly, I've learned some valuable lessons while wandering around the Himalayan trails.
Lesson #1 - Every breath matters; it's about being alive, now!
Can you remember if someone ever taught the importance of breathing and to focus on every breath you take? Perhaps it's the most important lesson of life - to focus on our breathing, to ensure that we are alive - yet, we're never taught this in school or college! Being at an altitude of about 14,000 ft, where the temperature is close to 2 degrees Celcius, I was trying to catch my breath while walking uphill, to get the first glimpse of the sun rays falling on the Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain of the world.
It was then, that I realized how important it is for us, to know that this is the moment when we're living - and it's beautiful. Most of us tend to either ponder upon thoughts from the past or dreaming about the future, and we often forget to live in the present. If nothing else, trekking through the Himalayan trails will help you to learn how to live in the present and enjoy every bit of it.
Lesson #2 - Moving forward is the only sensible decision you can take.
During my first trek, I realized that going down is as difficult as hiking up! Yeah, right - while it might seem that moving up is pretty challenging, descending is nothing less. Once you begin the journey, no matter how tired you are, when you are in the middle of the trek and you're about to give up, you'll probably figure out that there's no escape - you have to cross another series of ups and downs. It's quite similar in life as well.
Most of the time, when we're stuck in a problem, we try and think about how to overcome it. There's hardly a choice to get things undone and to run away from the problem. And if we start ignoring it, we'll remain stuck in that forever - so, the wisest thing we can do is to face it and find a way to deal with it. In the end, moving forward is our only logical choice.
Lesson #3 - It's all about being open to new experiences.
Life in the mountains isn't easy, and while you embark on a high altitude trek, you gotta be prepared for all the surprises that nature has planned for you! While I was on my way to Goechala, some days were beautiful, bright and sunny, when I had chances of walking through lush valleys that were painted in all shades of greens - and then there were days when it would rain endlessly, and evenings would be snowy, with chills hitting our bones. While some places greeted me with the fresh blooms, some places were rugged and barren. Nonetheless, they all filled my heart with joy and helped me to embrace each day, happily!
Such is life! Not everything would happen the way we want, but eventually, everything will fall in place. Darker days will pass, making us stronger. Happy days will knock the doors, and we need to know that they won't last forever. It's all about being open to new experiences, and to learn from each day, so that we are prepared to face what lies ahead.
Lesson #4 - There's nothing called 'Overnight Success'!
Most of the people think that they would get to see the snowclad peaks kissing the clouds on the very first day of the trek - but the reality isn't anything close to that! No matter whether you're going for a difficult trek like Everest Base Camp or trying out something easier, you need to know that it won't be a cakewalk. For most of the treks, one has to walk through the jungle trails, cross the mighty rivers, hike across the valleys and then, finally, get a glimpse of what the heart has been longing for.
Just like trekking the Himalayas, you can't fall asleep while you are on your way up the mountains. Similarly in life, you have to put in the adequate effort, if you want to achieve your goals. When we plan to do something, we need to understand that it would take a certain time to shape up and we have to try our best to make it happen. If we become restless, it would cause more harm than good.
Lesson #5 - Respect and love every small thing in life.
My journey across the Himalayas has taught me to be grateful for this life. Amidst the wilderness, when you're away from the chaos and cacophony of the monotonous life, you often get to listen to the sound of silence. The steaming hot food or a cup of tea served to us while on a trek seems to be the best thing in the world. And as the night tiptoes in, we would lie down to gaze at the starlit sky and often scream in joy, seeing shooting stars.
Stuck in the city life, we often forget to show love when needed. We tend to take things for granted and hardly say 'Thanks' to people who deserve it. However, while in the mountains, when we have to survive on the barest minimum, we usually look back thinking of all the good things that we've otherwise ignored. Time and again, I have realized that the best things in life are priceless and no matter what we get on the way, we should be thankful for everything!
Being in the mountains always adds up something beautiful to life! Once you are among the Himalayas, you realize just how tiny, mortal and vulnerable you are. Over the years, I've met people from different parts of the world, who traveled across the borders - some, to learn the art of yoga and work in the Himalayas; some looking for adventures along the unknown trails; and some, to live there forever!
Undoubtedly, the magic of the Himalayan mountains can never fail to touch the lives of those who've come closer to it, at least for once!
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