It wasn’t just the immensity of the craggy walls of stone that towered above me. No, and it wasn’t quite the sheer power of the rivers as they coursed through the steep valleys between those peaks. It wasn’t even the beauty of the thousands of little flowers juxtaposed against the snowy peaks rising several kilometres in the distance. It was the sense of perspective that one gained that got to me – about how tiny I am in comparison to the mountains and how my thirty years of existence pale in comparison to the seventy million years of rocks crashing into each other to create the mountain range that we now call the Himalayas.
One cannot help but feel small when dwarfed by 6000m high mountains and rivers that flow so quickly that they’re but a blur of foam and eddies. As one walks through the narrow mountain paths, admiring the flowers on one side and the magnificent landscape on the other side, one starts to wonder about our place in the grand scheme of things. What place one might ask? We sometimes get so tied up in the things that we do and think we have to do that we forget that there’s so much more to life and this world than our little cubicles, bus routes and jaunts around town. There’s a whole huge world out there just waiting for us.
When we were small, our parents and other adults seemed like giants. These giants grew smaller as we grew bigger and later we realise that we’re all quite the same – we’re all people trying to live our lives in the best way that we can. As we outgrow the giants of our childhood, new giants emerge – possible career paths, academic and other goals that pop up as one passes unknowingly into adulthood. The pursuits of our youth seem to pale in comparison to the pursuits of adulthood. What was large before becomes tiny in comparison with what one faces in the future. One frets, one worries but ultimately is resigned to the fact that no matter how we try, we’re still going to remain just that much smaller than the things that we strive to do or become.
And with good reason. A person who stops seeking first slows down and then stops completely. In our quest to live our lives, we’re constantly striving to do that little bit more or go that one step higher. We’re never going to be the mountain but it definitely doesn’t hurt to aspire to stand among them. Dwarfed by the mountains we may be, but forget our place we should never. If we do remember that we are the small speck struggling along the mountain paths and that a little forward and upward progress is after all progress, nothing will be too difficult or insurmountable. That’s what the mountains teach us. That’s what we have to learn. Somehow.