Munching on a bar of Snickers in the sunny afternoon on Miranjani Top, amidst the chirpy laughter of my girlfriends, I sat looking down at the sole of my hiking shoe that had come off less than 20 minutes away from the top. There was no hope from the other half either as the sole was cracked in two barely clinging to the heel. Through weak signals I sent images of its demise to friends. No one came up with any bright ideas. Was about to send to family but decided against it out of the fear of my Mom banning me from trekking for life ? I also curbed the urge to throw them away from the top or hang them from the famous pole ? but felt sorry for them and forgave their betrayal. So then just did what I always do: told Him up there that since He brought me to the top He take me out of the ordeal. And so He did and what a treat it was because deep down I knew there was something in it for me.
There is a method to this madness called life. Whether it is the things we do or the people we meet or the errors we make, the dots connect somehow and make us who we are. And there is a purpose behind everything in life. Especially when you are out on an adventure and something unexpected happens. There is a purpose behind it. Always. Well, the purpose may unfold itself to you there and then, if you are a “seeker”, or it may leave you asking uncertain questions for life if you are a mere “traveller”. And there is a difference between the two. A wanderer who seeks comes back with a mended soul and a brighter insight. A traveller on the other hand comes back with memories alone. A seeker’s memento is immaterial, carried deep in the senses and recesses of the heart while a traveller brings back souvenirs of a different kind. A seeker has tales to tell about what he learnt from what he saw, while a traveller dwells in what he only saw. A seeker is mad. A traveller is sane. The one who seeks is lost in time and space. Travellers are conformed. Seekers are passionate. Impulsive. Deep. Travellers are sane, methodological and a bit like cold lovers. One is a wanderer that soaks himself into the ambiance, wrapping himself up in Nature’s cloak, owning, breathing, touching and living with his senses while the other kind of wanderer remains on the outer periphery, just watching. Seekers never question the whys but find the answers in it. Travellers are disturbed by the have nots. Seeker. Traveller. Traveller. Seeker. Both are different. Be a seeker and you will find the answers. Because in Rumi’s words whatever you are seeking, seeks you. And when that connection is made, it is an ecstatic moment of epiphany.
So what understanding did I gain when on my trek to Miranjani the sole of one of my shoes came off? It was the best thing that could have happened to me. Sounds crazy? I am not denying it. I do develop a certain level of madness triggered by the elements of Nature surrounding me. Nevertheless, it really added to my experience of the forest walk. Along with a buddy who got blisters on her feet, I was the tail ender, not just of my group, but of the entire lot of people who had reached the top that afternoon. Yes, people overtook us as we limped our way down. While some gentlemen asked if everything was ok, some colourful personalities tried to impress us with quick moves while descending. They skidded and fell. Egos hurt and injured pride, they vanished into thin air within a second ?.
Separated by distance from my friend, I walked slowly, my pace set with the setting sun. Both of us on a downward course. Suddenly, as if by some spell, the forest turned into a magical place of colours, sounds and life for me. The sunlight played hide and seek. Streaks of gold streamed through the trees and fell like spotlights on the hidden, little secrets of nature. It fell on lonesome leaves that were burning red and i saw in them human hearts set on fire for lost love. The soft light fell on the bevelled edges of the forest floor where small leaves lay burnt, lifeless and fallen like empty, used, copper bullet shells. The playful wind weaved itself through orange trees making them dance like fire flames along the slope of the mountain. Wherever i glanced, there was something exquisite that revealed itself and then hid again. The forest was alive. Watching. Playing. For rest, I sat on a big rock shaped like a throne and my eyes were drawn to the light hugging a twisted tree trunk that showed off its unique green and gray wooden texture that invited a touch. As soon as I did my attention was diverted to a log high up on the steepness where a single flower swayed as if to say goodbye. Aah it was an exquisite sight. I looked towards my left and right to see if anyone else was watching and like a child I waved back. I inhaled the forest and the heavy scent of pine cones filled the crevices of my heart like a balm. I was drugged. Like a naughty elf, I picked leaves. And then put them back. It felt that I was intruding and disturbing the harmony of Nature. Every single time I would stop and yelp in pain when i stepped on a sharp edge of a rock, I could hear the little insects cheering me on. I would never have heard their songs if those rocks did not stop me. And there were many! I would not have heard the rustling of dry leaves had not the knots and ties of the ancient roots of trees guarding the forest floor protectively slowed me down. I realized that the sarcastic throaty laugh of the crow when i was ascending, too had changed as it sang its grouchy melody. Tuneless, but reminding me that life was there. If it were not for the steep declines I would not have hugged trees, thanking them for giving me support in the absence of a hiking stick. And thus I would not have seen the forest ants climbing them with their summer loot for surviving Autumn. Or spiders weaving webs within the dark hollows of the trunk. Their trophies hanging from silken threads. I would not have felt the forest at all if it were not for those big sleek black, edgy rocks protruding in steps from the burnt grass below my feet, as I would sit and slide myself through them, smoothly like a child sliding out from a parent’s lap. I could go on about the darkness falling upon me like a comforting blanket rather than a fearful creature. I could go on about the call of prayer echoing through the terrain and birds landing gently in their respective abodes. But at the end of it all, my whole being and senses were touched like never before. And at the end of my two hour something descent I stepped down as a transformed soul. It was actually a walk through twilight.The sun fell into another world as found a light within: an understanding that sometimes obstacles are beautiful.
This picture from my walk is a beautiful reminder that obstacles are there for a reason. Sometimes for detours. And sometimes to slow us down. Because we forget to slow down. We always associate them with pain and never with beauty, peace, love or enlightenment. Obstacles are beautiful. Trust me or be a seeker and you will know....