Children see positivity in everything. No emotion is coloured by negative thoughts nor is an action judged as motivated and questioned . It’s beautiful to witness this purity of thought. When one brings another a toy or a sweet; they accept it readily and lovingly. And then we grow up and there comes about a change. Where, when and how, I don’t know. Maybe we are taught at times to be wary of people, to not accept gifts from others without reason, not to be too trusting and loving – because we fear being hurt. But what love is that where you haven’t invested enough emotionally, so you aren’t scarred even a bit when things don’t work out?
We move away from home for higher education and then our jobs. How we forget those who once were essential to our existence. I know of people who don’t get to see their parents for years. It’s so easy to forget and be ungrateful. Then there are relatives we loved as children. We played with those uncles and aunts. Then comes a time when we drift apart. There are times when we meet briefly and when we do, we use our minds to judge them, we start looking for changes, we start questioning motives. We’re suspicious when people are nice to us! Why can’t our thoughts be pure. Why can’t we love them as we did when we were children? Let’s teach ourselves to be more trusting, loving and giving especially to the people who loved us once but are far away now.
I remember my maternal great grandmother who I loved as a child. She lived with us for a couple of years and went back to our native place later. She’d tell us magical stories, give us food and love. I even remember her piercing my ears and then attending to the wound until it healed. Didn’t see much of her later as I grew up. We’d go to our native place only for the summer vacation. Those couple of months were wonderful though and she’d shower us with affection. She passed away quite a few years back and I couldn’t see her before that. I had heard she’d become totally blind a couple of years before her death. I regret not having made the trip to see her. To have been around and near her. To have told her that I loved her and that she had made my childhood years special.
‘Be independent, no matter what’– This is what my mom once told me and it has stayed with me since then. I know there’s now no novelty in this piece of advice but the first time that someone hears and absorbs it, it registers as important.
She belongs to another generation where women did not have the freedom they have today. Not many were educated and most were confined to their homes and activities of cooking, cleaning ,sewing etc. My mom chose to work after her marriage to my dad. My dad also had humble beginnings but what characterizes him is his broad-mindedness. His determination to build a better life for himself and others. I know my mother’s income also helped things move along at home, but that wasn’t the reason she worked. She worked because she didn’t want to be dependent on others for anything. Be it on my dad for finances to run the house, or to buy that piece of jewellery she liked or go out somewhere or organise transportation or anything for that matter. She told me a story of how once she waited for my dad to send the car to her for an errand she had to make. The car didn’t come on time and she got delayed, frustrated that the work wasn’t done and that lead to her taking a pledge of being independent no matter what. She ventured out more and more – took buses and trains, travelled on her own, bought what she liked (sensibly of course) and things were so much better. Not just for her but for my dad as well.
I wish all women understand this. That somewhere love becomes tinged with contrary emotions if we do not have the capability to fend for ourselves. We feel tied down (physically & emotionally) and possibly let down if we are not independent.
Make life happy by living freely and by giving yourself that freedom – Become independent.
Question: Why do people wish us ‘Happy Journey’when we’re undertaking one and not ‘Reach your destination, no matter how’. It’s obvious isn’t it because the quality of the journey matters most, not reaching the destination battered and bruised. I realized this with my first trek. Read on.
The first trek I undertook was in 2013 and it was to the Everest Base Camp in Nepal (referred to as EBC henceforth). It’s at 5380 m or 17,600 ft and can be reached by trekking for 10-11 days by foot or of course by helicopters. One doesn’t use choppers because the long trek helps in acclimatization & reaching directly is not a wise thing to do unless you’ve acclimatized already and are pushing for the summit. Back to the trek, I really don’t know how and why this happened but life plans for us whether we do or not. I never was into trekking but a close friend was into it and I would listen to all his stories always wondering if I would ever find trekking as exciting. He was the one to always push me to consider trekking but surprisingly on this one trek, he wasn’t the motivator. It was through another friend who was looking at completing a group of 15 people for the trek, that the seeds of a trek to EBC were first sown.Somehow, it seemed like something worth achieving than just the enjoyment of trekking – Everest does have that aura, doesn’t it?! I thought, if I have to try a trek, why not this one? And so I found myself seriously contemplating the trek. My husband was equally keen to do it and so we decided we’d go for it. From then on, there’s been no looking back. Trekking is now an essential activity – and its difficult not to trek at least a couple of times in the year (the week-long ones).
We were told that EBC (at 5380 m or 17,600 ft) wasn’t an easy trek but something that wasn’t very tough either – so beginners could attempt it provided they had the mental strength to plod on. It’s a 11-13 day end to end trek including 8 days of ascent and 2 of descent & a couple of days at Kathmandu. Getting to Namche on day 2 and then Tengbouche on day 4 (post an additional day of acclimatization at Namche) were the tough parts, but if one could do that, the rest was not so difficult. So I set out, determined to make it to Namche no matter what! I knew if I could do Namche, then I’d complete the trek.
And Namche I did conquer. It wasn’t easy but I guess I was mentally prepared and the ‘baby steps’ rule worked wonders. I completed the rest of the trek to EBC and when we crossed over to the Base camp post the long walk over the moraine, it felt like a huge achievement especially considering that we walked from Labouche straight to the Base camp & then back to Gorakshep on that day. That day was challenging for me because I had unwittingly eaten a tuna egg sandwich for breakfast when we took a break at Gorakshep, before starting for the base camp and gosh, thanks to that I spent a lot of time squatting behind the rocks that one way! It was tough, I was getting tired and dehydrated faster but I kept on. Of all the people who were with us, my husband never flinched even once when I told him for the nth time that I needed to go again. I’ll be forever grateful to him for that. We finally reached EBC around 1-1.30 pm tired and at the end of our strength. I hugged my husband, without whom I would not have been able to complete it. Over the past 10 days he had kept pace with me, slowed down when I went slow, checked on me when I was feeling unwell, never complained and stood behind me like a rock. A few tears rolled down my cheek involuntarily standing there – 10 days of continuous plodding had brought us to our destination. I was exhausted and there was a sense of relief in me. I guess I felt like a marathoner running his first 42 km run. Tired, pushing his limits and egging himself on to finally reach the finish line. I looked up in wonder at the small pyramid-shaped peak barely visible to us (since we were up close) about 3 kms away vertically. I felt an amazing sense of veneration for Mt Everest. I remember feeling overwhelmed when I had seen her from Tengbouche for the first time. I had read about her in the text books in school and a bit on blogs and articles before my trek, but never had I imagined that I would get to set my eyes on the worlds tallest mountain in person! My eyes tried to look up and follow the western cwm and across the kumbhu glacier breaking out with craters and crevasses. It had definitely been worth it. We clicked a few pictures, stayed for a while trying to get the moment to sink in and then started back .
All through this journey, I was forced to walk slow and stop frequently to catch my breath because my physical fitness did not allow me to trek faster. Even though I walked slower and stopped frequently, unfortunately I did not see many sights or take in all the beauty around me. My mind was constantly thinking of how tired I was, whether I’d be able to make it to the next stop, how late would it be when we reached, where was the next loo, etc etc. When you’re tired- slightly fatigued, you miss out on the beauty around you.
Of course, there were beautiful moments that registered, of walking through the Rhododendron forest, over the 2nd really high bridge before Namche watching the Kosi river below, my first glimpse of Everest (which I’ll never forget for as long as I live) and of the beautiful Ama Dablam. The broad wind-swept valley of Periche with slight snow falling as we walked back from Gorakshep (post the EBC victory), the Thukla Dukla pass & momuments to the brave moutaineers who’d lost their lives in Everest. I remember all of these and much more, but I do wish I had been more aware & alive to my surroundings – I wished I had enjoyed the trek with abandon with my mind only ‘here & now’. I think to myself often, that I’ll defintely do EBC again, just to relive the whole trek again but this time being fully present to the beauty of the place.
The Periche Valley
The Bridge crossings before Namche
Post that trek I realised that trekking teaches you one of the most important principles of life. It asks you to question – Will reaching my destination give me that Happiness (the one I expect) or is enjoying the journey as important?
Think about it. We all want happiness in life. It believe it will come when we get that coveted position at work, or buy that BMW or when we have that figure in the bank. But will that really happen. NO. It’ll be momentary. Instead if you live life such that happiness becomes your state of mind independent of your current status or possessions. If you just decide to accept & enjoy the beauty of life – the daily commute, the occasional muddle, the little joys; life becomes a happy journey.
Improve your life’s journey – don’t wait to reach the destination. The question I’ve asked at the beginning of the blog, I had read in ‘Happiness Unlimited – Awakening with the Brahmakumaris’. The book is a must read for everyone & it’s easily available on Amazon.
Summer vacations are on in India & as usual parents (including myself) have a long list of the things/skills we want our children to accomplish in the short window of 2 months. There’s Swimming, Cycling, Skating, Drawing, Robotics (the ever-growing list of skills) to be learnt. But what disturbs me is that parents who want their children to learn so as to live creative fulfilling satisfying lives, do not spare a thought about their own life or growth. For a lot of us, our learning stopped with us becoming adults (and more so post parenthood for we had another life to be responsible towards).
Learning comes with the requirements of taking time out, moving out of your comfort zone, facing your fears and dealing with new situations and people. Some of us can’t even bear the thought of trying out something new 🙂 When I suggested to a friend of mine to take up cycling recently, she was appalled and said “Pagal hai kya! Nai re baba, I’m happy watching my serials at night and sleeping peacefully. Who wants any change?”Anything new is viewed with fear, suspicion and even ridicule. I’ve often heard comments ” You suffering a mid-life crisis? ” 🙂 So we want no risk, just happy to be left alone to continue leading that predictable life.
But that’s not life. What about living life to the fullest? Isn’t to Live – actually to Learn & Grow throughout? Isn’t it important to continue our evolution? Learn new skills, New matter, Feel New emotions, Meet New people?
Try and remember that thrill when you first learnt to balance on that bicycle or swim without that float. Wasn’t it exhilarating? Wasn’t it something you just kept doing over and over again till you were exhausted? Get that zest back in life (for time is short)-pick up a new hobby like photography or music. Or take up trekking or some new form of fitness. Or join some new art/ yoga group to meet new people. Learn driving now if you haven’t so far – same goes for cycling or swimming or even skating. I know that a lot of us do some new things once in a while & change our routine but I mean Doing something that tests & challenges you again and again & makes you feel young and new.
Every learning still gives that thrill – you just need to sign up for life again.
I’m from India and we have a lot of native handicrafts and I work in the field of handicrafts because of my love for people and creativity. But for these artisans who create beautiful handicrafts, creation is not just a means of self expression but an essential activity for survival. Most of them who reside in rural India, are solely dependent on their craft for their day to day living expenses since they do not possess any other skill. Further, women who have traditionally been neglected & uneducated are left with little other means for survival and financial independence. My artisans who make patachitra paintings, handloom stoles, paper mache articles are each unique people..
They sit in the heat without fans, painting, weaving or working at the furnace (for Dhokra products) tirelessly. You don’t hear them complain. Give them constructive feedback, new designs to work upon, point out processes that can be modified and watch them strive towards it in the good faith that all improvements will help bring in more work.
The fact that they leave aside their everyday worries, come for meetings & take pains to grow in their chosen professions is commendable. They remind us that the things we take for granted (such as easy money & a good life) are to be cherished and if possible shared.