Nature Is Our Greatest Source Of Inspiration

Nature Is Our Greatest Source Of Inspiration

Things Learnt While Hiking In 2023 - Part 1

Nature Is Our Greatest Source Of Inspiration

"It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living." - David Attenborough

I vividly remember the day as I write this when it was around 5:15 in the freezing cold morning at the Molley campsite and we were on our way to SabarGram to summit Phalut which is the 2nd highest peak in West Bengal(3600m) and also from its peak you would get to see some of planet earths highest mountains The Everest (8849m), Kanchenjunga (8586m), Lhotse (8516m) & Makalu (8481m). It was just myself that early in the morning and there was no one at least 500 m behind or ahead of me, I just looked back to be greeted by the entire sky slowly getting covered in orange and that small dot you see is Jupiter.

After a few minutes, the sun was slowly rising covering the entire sky into a magical orange landscape, the moon was right on top of me and we got to see the first views of the Sleeping Buddha with Kanchenjunga the world's third highest mountain at the center. My words cannot truly express what I was witnessing.

The Sleeping Buddha With Kanchenjunga at the center

We humans are generally wired to always think about ourselves, our loved ones, or 99% of the time what other earthlings think of us, then here I was exactly at that moment in time being inspired, awed by what I have just witnessed and thinking that we need to collectively work hard to preserve this experience not just for us but for our future generations to come (something we inherited). A moment that made me feel more responsible and accountable towards not just myself and the people I deeply care about, but our greatest source of Inspiration The Natural World.

Embrace The Uncertainties In Life - Don't Plan Out Every Detail

“The only certainty is that nothing is certain.” - Pliny the Elder

"I think that one should recognize the reality even when one does not like it;indeed,especially when one does not like it "- Charlie Munger

Morgan Housel (The Author Of Psychology Of Money) said "People get excited when they’re surprised. Not when something big happens, or when they find the right answer. They get happy, mad, scared, amused, and astounded when they stumble across a gap between expectations and reality." What he truly meant was Happiness = Expectations - Reality. I think about this more often now than ever through the kind of experiences I have had across all the areas of my life so far in my relationships with people, at the job, the expectations your family has on you, or just the kind of expectations that I wanted to get from the treks and after a certain point I was able to spot a clear difference in what led to happiness and what did not. Most of the time I had huge expectations that led to disappointments and heartbreaks and the most unexpected things led to some of the most fulfilling and happiest moments of my life so far. June-August 2023 was one of the darkest periods of my life battling with my inner demons and getting to know the underlying truth of certain things, the actual reality sometimes might break anyone and contrary to how I might look to the outside world I always thought of myself as a emotionally strong and mature person. But here I was trying to accept the reality as it is, battling depression, and for a man to come out and say that he is struggling with mental health needs to have a lot more courage than what he already has, In acknowledging my battle against the mental health, I've come to realize a newfound strength, one that I now proudly recognize within myself, a testament to the resilience that emerges from facing the darkness within. This does not mean one should not have expectations totally but do have it with a worldview that reality can be something different than what you might expect it to be all the time. Just Embrace Uncertainty and randomness.

This change in perception also led me to focus on uncovering the truth rather than trying to be right always because avoiding something if it does not align with your existing beliefs is a dangerous game to play and it's always good to know the other side of the coin as well.

The Need To Be Sustainable

We have come as far as we have because we are the cleverest creatures to have ever lived on Earth. But if we are to continue to exist, we will require more than intelligence. We will require wisdom - David Attenborough

What do you think are some of the greatest mistakes that mankind has ever made? The Chernobyl Disaster in 1986, Hitler's Invasion Of Poland In 1939, Genghis Khan, The Manhattan Project that led to the invention of the Atomic Bomb, etc, I think the list can keep going but if we think these are some of our greatest mistakes we are mistaken. The greatest one is the Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss that is unfolding every day, it's happening right in front of everyone and if we don't act soon over the next few decades it'll be the biggest and probably the only disaster ( If Mr Elon Musk fails to make us a multi-planetary species ) that mankind has ever committed.

Before the industrial and agricultural revolution, much of human history was sustainable, because that was our only way of living. we were okay and happy with what we got. Everything was in balance. But over some time we become smarter and just an idea could change things for us, that's how we ended up inventing rockets and going to the moon, able to look beyond our planet, and the solar system, live longer and much happier than our ancestors, eradicated deadly diseases, captured the first picture of a black hole, made technology more accessible than ever and by using our brains which is the most critical part of our identity we were able to look into the smallest to the biggest things in the known universe and do things that no species can ever be able to do. All of this led to so much good and bad, the right and the wrong things happened but largely we humans become more comfortable, we are a species that is filled with greed, capitalism is ruling nations all over the world, and finally, the over-consumption of the limited resources of the earth is leading to a much bigger disaster and the worst part is in this process we are aiming to be the only last species to be alive on this planet. Just imagine if we continue to exist as we are today, there will be a day when you show your kid on your digital device that this is how Lions, Elephants, Giraffes, and birds used to look like, how sad would that moment be if the kid asked you where are these now? What would your answer be? would you be telling them that we humans ended up being responsible for the loss of these species? - I would leave this to your imagination.

1968: Earthrise (Apollo 8)

The truth is when we took the first image of the planet Earth, we realized that we are just a small rock hurdling through space and time and that our resources are not infinite enough to keep consuming the Earth in an unsustainable way. The reality is with or without us the wild will return ( what happened in Chernobyl after the disaster was a clear example), we often think about saving our planet but we need to be sustainable to save ourselves and our species. Anything that cannot be consumed forever is by definition unsustainable and we need to strike the right balance, consume less and there's a much bigger need to act and live as hunter-gatherers more than ever. That's our only option.

I'm not trying to say that we have to live like hermits, I'm grateful for everything that we humans have done to make every generation live better than theirs, our quality of life has improved, but largely we have traded all of this amazing thing with the pristine natural world and there's a need for us to be responsible and mindful about the choices we make till the time we become a multi-planetary species.

This is one of the reasons I love hiking with Indiahikes because of their sustainability practices and the idea of leaving mountains better than we found.

There are certain things that we can all do to be sustainable

  • Primarily, Reduce The Usage of Plastic.

  • Consume Less - Think Twice Or Ask Yourself 'Do I Really Need This'? Whenever You Order Something Online/Offline - Do It Only If Necessary OR if the item is sustainable.

  • Use Public Transport/Bicycle for your means of transport as much as possible.

  • Turning Down The Capitalism and Putting Money Where Our Mouth Is

  • Take Care Of Our Planet and It'll take care of us :)

  • We Become A Purpose Driven Species Than Just A Profit Driven
    Patagonia is such an inspiring case study and I wonder why can't we just learn from them

A Life On Our Planet By David Attenborough is a also great start to learning more about climate change and biodiversity loss, just Like how Hiking helped me what does it mean to be sustainable i just wish reading this will change some of you if not already.

The Most Important Investments You Can Ever Make - Physical & Mental Health

“A healthy man wants a thousand things, a sick man only wants one” - Confucius

I realized the importance of Physical and mental health when I started taking Hiking more seriously. Exercise or Mindfulness was never a regular thing to me. I used to take walks whenever it was possible but unlike other things, I never deliberately pushed myself to be regular with my workouts until later I realized while I was on the hikes that as much as I loved nature, the solitude, the mountains, the songs of the birds in the wild and every other reason that had led me to do more hikes, I hated the fact that my body and mind was not always fit enough to embrace the very own things I wanted completely, moments where I just wished why the hell am I doing this, can't I just offload my backpack? can't I just quit and go back to my comfort zone? can't I go back to my apartment, grab a pizza/eat my favorite biryani, binge-watch a series, and just get done with my day? - but since I always loved embracing the pain, loved pushing my limits, I was able to complete the treks irrespective of my lack of complete physical and mental preparedness for the same. I think everyone will realize the importance of certain things once you hit rock bottom or go through some very low points in life which make you realize that you need to invert your current lifestyle. Most of the the real important things in life like the value of Money, Good Relationships, and Health are noble pursuits. you'll only realize its true value when you don't have one, it's almost like oxygen you know its value because without it life cannot exist.

But the truth is I can't keep doing this, there's a certain limit to everything that your body or mind can withstand, some other day I might face much harsher challenges that I might not be able to embrace. I wanted to get healthier both physically and mentally.

Unlike setting unrealistic expectations with my workouts or waiting to set my new year new me resolutions or trying to prove a point to someone else - I started slow ( trying not to be stupid and just focusing on getting 1% better every day, replacing the bad habits with good) but focused towards being disciplined and most importantly I wanted my WHYs to drive me towards my physical and mental well-being. I always believed that if you have a strong WHY behind everything that you do in your life either achieving financial freedom, success, or whatever it is - It helps you be more responsible and accountable towards that thing.

The WHYs behind me wanting to be physically and mentally strong are:

  • Live long enough to see my kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids kids :)

  • To Learn More About Everything and Be Curious - You have one life and there's so much more to learn and hence I need to take care of myself.

  • Keep Playing A Sport

  • Travel More

This story "The Darker Side of High Altitude Himalayan Trekking— A Phulara Ridge Story" by my fellow trekker Deepika is a first-hand and personal account of the actual dangers of high-altitude mountain trekking and why you cannot take fitness lightly or of granted. The line between inspiringly bold and foolishly reckless can be a millimeter thick and can only be visible with hindsight. Treat your body as a house you want to live for the next 70-80 years to come. Avoid the second Arrow :)

Adversity Shapes You Up - Finding Joy In Doing The Difficult Things

I was listening to a podcast by Lex Fridman with Walter Isaacson ( who wrote the biographies of Steve Jobs, Henry Kissinger, Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Jennifer Doudna, and most recently about Elon Musk) and there was a topic about what is the role of any kind of difficult childhood and Adversity in the lives of great men and women, great minds - is it a requirement, a catalyst to do great things or is it just a simple coincidence of fate? - It's not a requirement was the answer from Walter but he also quoted that it's certainly true that a lot of really driven people are driven because they are harnessing some kind of adversity or demons they faced in their childhood and end up doing things that a changes the course of humanity forever.

I was thinking about this in my last trek (Sandakphu Phalut) that most of us are in some ways trying to battle and harness our demons and maybe it's part of the reason we end up doing more riskier, adventurous, and wilder things.

I used to think about the immense strength that is required by these huge mountains, how the hell the ecosystems and biodiversity, the people who just go on with their daily chores around these mountains sustain the harsh climates and here I'm a trekker trying to fit into the same. Trying to get used to the negative temperatures in the winters, the harsh cold winds hitting your face without giving a damn about who you are, washing your utensils in the cold water, climbing a very long steep ascend with your 10 Kg rucksack, hiking hours in the rains to reach the next campsite, sweating yourself in the blazing hot sun and getting your blood sucked by the leeches (an experience I would never forget), struggling to fit into my sleeping bag and waking up as early as 4 am to start your days hike, trying to be awake late in the nights till 1-3 am or waking up to see the milky-way and many times being disappointed because of unclear skies and Life, akin to these challenges, mirrors a series of struggles- confronting the darkness, venturing into the unknown, absorbing numerous blows, and yet, remarkably, I always find the joy in the difficulty and when your heart opens in the presence of those one or two images you see after facing all the challenges is something to live for.

Always Find Joy In Doing The Difficult Things and walk Alongside Your Demons To Harness Them! This Is Not Just True W.R.T Trekking, It's True Of Everything In Life.

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