The lady, who was coming down the track, said matter of factly, ‘You guys are almost there. I’d say about 5 more minutes or so.’ If I’ve ever felt ‘respite’ in my life, hearing those words had to feature somewhere at the top. Following a few hours of intense mountain climbing, and that too by someone who’s never even been to a gym before, there’s nothing more I could have asked for than to know that we’re almost done. A near sense of accomplishment and a touch of exhilaration crept up to my throat. Yes, it’s coming to an end. Table Mountain is moments away from being conquered!
But, wait a second. As soon as the thought crossed my mind, ironically enough, a feeling of betrayal reared an ugly head from the other side. A betrayal of happiness that I witnessed, felt, and shared in the past few hours.
Was I cheating on being grateful? Was I failing to appreciate the beauty that I had beheld from various vantage points on the way up the climb? Was I totally turning a blind eye to the fact that my eyes got treated to some of the most breathtaking beauties of nature, my soul relished from the blissful early morning air, and my self enjoying the companionship of b-school friends in the ride?
Questions appeared out of thin air one after another until I could take no more. And the more and more I thought about the responses, the firmer I tilted towards the latter. It’d be a travesty not to admit that indeed some of the most memorable moments in my short life came from the endurance of that climb. It was magical, it was spell-binding, it had to be a hike of a lifetime.
I decided to take a seat on a rock by the side looking over the magnificent view. From afar, I could see the sleepy blue ocean slowly begin to rise from its slumber. It seemed like a blue body of mass tossing and turning in agony from side to side just like we would do at the thought of leaving the bed in the morning. The constant writhing, as if fueled by throes of torment, generated enough power to roll the formation of waves. And just as soon as it began to seem that the gaping mouth of the waves would devour the land, white froths crashed against the sandy shore, slowly receding into its territory; only to come back again in an attempt to exact vengeance.
I smiled at the friendly tussle between the tide and the sand. Here are two neighbors treating me to a play that not only made up for all the sweat, but also made me wonder whether there’s anything more beautiful than traveling to see these treats.
After a while, my gaze slowly shifted upward to the horizon. The sun was now stationed much higher than it was when we started off. The bright, radiant golden glow spread across the ocean. A brilliant color display ensued as the sporadic clouds in an otherwise blue sky provided the needed blocks to enlighten the surroundings in multitude of hues. The rays fell with a majestic shade on the passing yachts and ships, producing mesmerizing, glinting images as those sailed towards the infinite blue. The setting was magnetic. I couldn’t take my eyes off it!
‘You ready?’ asked a comrade. My body said, ‘Yes’ but my heart said, ‘No!’ Looking ahead at the inviting mosaic plated rocks, the surrounding green foliage, and flying birds of unique colors, I realized that it’s time. But what about the stunning views?
As I wrestled within myself whether to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ two listless European female tourists standing up front gave me a commiserating look. Inspired by the affectionate spectacle of the sea and the land, I reciprocated with a lolled out tongue, insinuating that I felt as dead as they appeared, but still not ready to give up the quest for the top. ‘Let’s go’ I replied. We exchanged smiles and proceeded.
Someone said that, ‘Life is the art of drawing without an eraser. It is an endless unfolding, and if we wish it to be, an endless process of self-discovery. It is a continued struggle, never an assured victory.’ This epic walk up the mountain reminded me of the quote and encouraged me to never stop exploring.
So what if we scramble and sweat and climb to reach what we thought was the goal if we don’t enjoy the sojourn in the stride? Because when we get to the top, we stand up and look around, chances are we’d feel a little empty. Actually, more than a little empty. It dawned on me that the best journeys are those which fill you up with nostalgia, an unprecedented amount of laughs, and priceless memories. And this hike has done exactly that.
It may not have been an Everest climb, but it surely was a hike that tested my physical stamina. It reaffirmed my belief that my ambition can always drive my ability. And most importantly, it strengthened my spirituality as I’m grateful beyond infinity to the Almighty for giving me this rare opportunity to travel across one of the most beautiful landscapes anywhere in the world; to have flown without wings.
This post is contributed by Ivdad Ahmed Khan Mojlish, the Co-founder and Managing Director of LightCastle Partners, an emerging market specialized business planning and intelligence firm – or as we know him, our favourite old ‘Dad. If you’re as awed by him as we are, you can shoot him a mail at [email protected]