We exist in an urban enclosure cohabiting with cement and flesh- both possessing the power to overwhelm the most indomitable spirit. This is our landscape, the terra firma we seek our transient security in.
But when we find ourselves confronted with the sheer might and majesty of the mountains, the experience stills the restlessness within and demands to be heeded. Admittedly, I have gladly surrendered, with due deference, to these moments with these mystic sentinels of the world.
The very spectacle of these rugged-sloped wonders- some ice-capped, some verdant, others brown and pebbly- serve as solemn reminders that there are matters in heaven and earth beyond our limited consciousness.
The tangible calmness that emanates from the mountains is all pervading. Everything else feels dwarfed and insignificant in their wake and the human spirit can only submit to the raw beauty of the terrain.
Driving uphill via the treacherous hairpin bends, with the deep forested valley on one side and the rough mountain face on the other, the increasingly chilly air fills the muddied city lungs with startling freshness. Deep breaths are devoured hungrily by our starved bodies and satiety exists in soaking the soul in the moment. Tired eyes feast on downy layers of clouds hovering teasingly around the peaks of the ranges that remain mischievously elusive. And then, all of a sudden, there are bunches of unnamed, unknown blooms that line the road- their purples, mauves, reds, whites and yellows challenging the lush green all around.
Amidst this is the unexpected surreal experience of walking the mountain paths with the clouds that seep into our clothes, mist over our spectacles and strangely, restore the long-forgotten sharpness in our breath punching “life” into our living.
How insignificant we feel looking out onto the deep river carved valleys with the surrounding mountains lording over the scenery protectively! How trivial do our heady desires feel, that otherwise intoxicate the battered willpower, pulling it in different directions!
Another treasure unearthed in these mountains is the sheer silence that is a refreshing contrast to the tuneless cacophony of the urban orchestra. What is this stunning silence- this absence of discordant sounds? It is in such surroundings we realize how noisy and harsh our thoughts sound. Our conflicting perceptions, our cynical inner voice that condemns and criticises, our unspoken words, our silent cries of pain- all melt into this omnipotent silence that plays out a unique melody. Armed with a camera, I have been busy trying to encapsulate the minutes that took my breath away repeatedly. But how do I capture and preserve the silence to cherish for posterity?
There are a million soul-treasures waiting to be gathered with an open mind and heart if you give yourself to the mountains. For me, it has been this Silence, the sheer Calm and a nascent Yearning that amazes me with its hold over my heart. I am four decades into this world; I considered myself pretty much domesticated before this, but now I realize that regardless of our age, we all have that “untamed essence” within us, which we smother with our striving and struggles. This rawness is perhaps the residual vestige of our link with our primitive ancestors…which surfaces with inconvenient timing. Whatever the explanation of the source may be, it does exist, and it emerges when we behold the natural world we were once a part of.
My heart belongs to many things- but there is this strange love blended with a large dose of awe, that sometimes borders on fear, when I remember my moments with the mountains. The point is, I cannot fathom them; I cannot hope to understand them in their entirety- and this is disconcerting but also very alluring. But then again, I don’t want to understand the mountains- that will take a lifetime, and I don’t have much time left in this one- so, I rather just “be” with the mountains, yield to their might and sing my humble mountain sutra…