View From the Top… The Reason We Need to Trek…!

After having walked 40 years on earth, I finally walked my way up the beautiful hill of Prabalmachi, feeling touched with every part of the track I climbed, becoming more aware of my existence.

Oh my God! What an experience!

I left home at 5.55am with my friend Seema, who had really insisted that we must go, with a group of 80 people. Two buses were arranged and we hopped in.

Leaving Malad at 6.15 and reaching Prabalgad at 9.15 seemed like a quick journey, given the traffic scenario in Mumbai. Sunday had probably played the trick!

The expectations were clearly set that we would be using the village resources and hence we must refrain from looking for anything lavish. But that was actually the fun part, because this was exactly what we didn’t get to experience in our city lives.

Everything here in the city, is so convenient and easy. From having washrooms inside the house to having electricity 24×7. From having 24hr water facility to garbage pick up. And many more to add to the list. However, we take everything for granted. Let me keep that for another blog!

So after a quick round of introduction to the place and the trekking terrain, of course not to forget the ‘lota party'(filling buckets of water from a drum and walking 3meters to the washroom- could connect with the movie ‘Toilet’), we started the trek.

We were all walking together in the group. However, due to the changing speed of hikers, people kept shuffling, creating opportunity to meet other people. Yet I was just concentrating on being with my co-climber, Seema.

As we started walking I was full of energy to reach the top before time. Two and a half hours was what was told to us, but I was so enthusiastic, that I thought I wont need more than two hours to reach the peak. This stayed with me until midway, from where the slope was starting to become steep and I had started running short on my stamina.

There was a check point post half way, where we sat for about 5-10 minutes. Here was when the introspection started. At this point the view had already begun to look beautiful. It was bewitching. Though, at this point, for a moment I felt, I am too tired to move another step, but I was spellbound at the alluring beauty, which compelled me to move further to explore the higher heights.

We started walking again, but something had changed. I was more relieved and started enjoying the journey, now not falling short of my stamina. It was that 5min break or maybe some introspection that gave me some insight or maybe the protien bar. It was hard to say which of this had done the trick.

Reaching the top and experiencing life was something, which words will never be able to express. The view, the sight and the feeling at that height was to die for. The colorful world we live in, the fog, the charm of the neighbouring mountains, crabs, the little cascades and the look of the valley stole my heart. The water was so clear, it coupd fail the purifiers at our homes.

To add to the fun, we had some team building games which broke the ice and bound everyone so as to feel the connect along with the pleasure of having such happy souls around.

After we were done with the fun and lunch, we sat at the brim of the peak and just kept admiring the beauty of the depth and the height.

I must also give a flavour of what the overall trek was like, so you may know what a good trek looks like.

The trek leaders were super supportive and caring, most of whom we met for the first time and would probably never meet again. Since they were experienced, they were already in position at places where it was slippery or steep or difficult for new trekkers.

I cannot miss appreciating the local guys who were standing at a point, to protect strangers, where there was a chance of a stone fall. The stone was just balancing itself very delicately at a height and could fall anytime, killing someone at a fraction of a second. These 2-3 young boys guided us and held our hands to cross that place. And what bowed my head was seeing them standing there for hours. While going up and while coming down, the 7 hour trek saw them standing like tough rocks, wanting to protect every passerby.

I must specifically mention the highlight of the tour – the swing. There were three swings attached to the branches of the trees with tight and thick ropes. They looked sober and did not really attract attention at first. Hence we missed them on our way up. But a fellow trekker was all praises and sold us the idea to try it atleast once and so we did. Lo and behold! The adrenaline cannot be described. The heart went singing and body went flying at a mesmerizing rhythm. It was a moment that made me feel that life is not just about the roles we play, it’s about the souls that we feed.

I kept thinking about the entire journey and also admired what was touching my spirit through my eyes. My conscience was touched. It was overwhelming. And usually at such instances, contemplation happens automatically. I felt insightful and hence felt the need to share it.

Let me mention a few insights which I gathered at the trek and which I would want to apply to my life too – professional and personal. This is apart from the fact that, I am in love with mother nature and would love to explore so much more.

Insights –

1. While moving up, we usually want to catch up to the pace of our friends. We want to compete and not be left behind. This deteriorates our performance and disturbs the speed that is best suited for us. Instead, if we move at a pace we like, others automatically come round. Moreover, our favorite co-trekkers, always find a way to move along. That’s what Seema and I did.

2. We usually feel guilty overtaking our buddies. So either we keep waiting for them to reach us or try to maintain the speed so that we do not overtake them. This keeps us lagging behind our potential. Moreover we delay because of that and then the pressure sets in. Therefore, again performance is impacted.

3. We do not look around to enjoy the beauty in the smaller things. Apart from reaching the cliff and enjoying the view there, the greenery alongside, the sound of birds and the breeze, the feeling of bring in touch with raw earth, the droplets from the sky that touch our skin and the smell of freshness, also need to be observed. Everything on the trail is worth noticing.

4. We carry unnecessary burden. I was carrying my wallet, which I realised was not needed. I was carrying a packet of dry snacks, cookies and munching, as if a two hour climb will give me hunger cramps of Godzilla. Although I ate only the protien bar, I burdened myself with a lot of unnecessary stuff. We do this so often, isn’t it? Because, we think we might need something and should have things handy. But we forget that we are created to resist and can cope up with a lot more than we know. Therefore it’s best to be specific about what precisely we would need.

In life also we do the same. We stuff our homes and lives with unnecessary things and people, but mostly nothing comes handy or useful. To add to it, we carry the burden of guilt, pressure, low self-esteem, etc. most of which is not required.

We need to travel light guys!

What we can do instead-

1. Enjoy the journey. Breathe enough and not rush like everyone else and above all not compare or compete. You will experience solace at every touch of breeze.

2. Observe the team work. Usually a trek is well organized and planned in advance and so was ours. If you observe how neatly a task is enjoyed and accomplished, being in sync, you will know how success comes with coordination, while working like a team, taking others along.

The entire trekking episode got me closer to life, nature, gratefulness, empathy, love and the importance of having a goal. A goal to reach the top and enjoy the view, because the view from the top is stupendous!!

You Get Freedom When You Face Your Fears…

Fear is a very powerful emotion. At some point or the other, it has driven each one of us.

We are usually too scared to only lose something – loss of health, loss of loved ones, loss of finances, loss of beauty, etc. Moreover, the biggest fear that drives us, is the fear of being hurt, especially if we have experienced it in the past.

It’s not easy to let go of this emotion. But if we gather the courage, its doable. When I say courage, I don’t mean that we won’t feel scared, I mean that we do what we need to do anyway.

For eg: 12 years back, while working as a centre head with Reliance Infocomm, I was threatened by a client who had billing issues for his newly bought mobile. Those days Reliance had launched the 501 plan in which one had to pay only rs. 501 and it fetched them a handset on an interest free EMI along with a free bill plan. There was crazy chaos in the billing system and our centre was lined up with bill dispute customers everyday. It was during those days, that a few customers ended up threatening us, face to face at the centre.

One of the customers was so furious that he threatened to kidnap me. I was hell scared. I told my family about it and they tried their best to comfort me. However, I was still worried coming to work for a few days post that. Nothing really happened, but the stress it gave me, was bizarre.

The point is, I had to do what I had to do, keeping the fear aside. Even though I could not let go of the fear, I had to fulfill all my duties and responsibilities. And I did!

Fear pervails in all kinds of situations. Amonst many, I’d like to share another instance, a recent, different situation, where I had to fight my fear and do what was needed to be done.

This was when I had to speak to a large audience, after almost a 3-year break. I had lost my confidence big time. But there was this opportunity and I didn’t intend losing it.

I rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed. I took a deep breath and there I was, on the stage, with the mike in my hand. My legs were shivering and my trembling hands pulled my attention a million times a second. But Alas! I did it. What did I have to lose, even if I faultered? I would lose this opportunity. But that would anyway be lost if I did not attempt it. Here atleast I had a 50% chance of pulling it off. 20seconds on the stage and I started getting the grip.

Strenght is developed in situations when we think we can’t go on, but we keep going anyway. Ergo, we must know that there will be times which will make us scared, anxious, nervous and vulnerable. Yet, if we keep moving forward and show up, we will cross all barriers and reach where we wish to.

And once we know how to deal with our fears, we will forever feel free and liberated.

Deal with them one by one.

A very common and unknown fear is the ‘Fear of Death’. Whether we are rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, healthy or unhealthy, etc. We will die. We all are here to enjoy this journey of life and no matter what, we will wither off. Human species cannot live more than 100 years. Very few make it up to 102/103. So then, isn’t it better to be prepared to embrace what is real, instead of being confused with the worldly pleasures which will vanish sooner or later. The worst that can happen in any scenario will also end up in death and so will the best. Therefore, don’t attach too much to the best and don’t worry too much for the worst.

Another that tops the chart is, ‘Fear of Being Alone’- And so the question arises, ‘Weren’t we born alone?’ There is a reason behind it. The reason is, that we are created fully equipped to survive alone irrespective of any situation. Relationships only exist to enhance our journey on this planet. So if we are not charged up enough while sharing our life with someone, why can’t we sum up the courage to live alone?

Having said that, you must believe me, when I say, that ‘The creator never leaves us alone’. He keeps us around people who can uplift our souls and help us enjoy our journey. It’s just that, most of the times, we do not recognize them and keep running behind those, that attract the senses. However, beyond the stereotype, there exists connect and love. Nevertheless, nothing can compete with the love one must have for oneself. And if you haven’t fallen in love with yourself yet, it’s time to do that, to feel yourself in nothingness and experience the divine. It won’t happen at a click, because we all are a work in progress. Still, we need to start somewhere.

If you can deal with just these two fears, to start with, the rest will just be fine. And if you cannot do this, you must know that you are already dead… just that you ain’t aware yet..!