“Hike not for the world to see you, but to see the world”. I read this quote somewhere on the Internet some time ago, and this made me recall my journeys to various mountain peaks.
To be honest, I started out hiking “for the world to see me”. I was neither fit (actually, I was overweight), nor was I the adventurous type (I spend most of my time in front of my computer).
One day, my mother was taking her students for a trip up Broga Hill (near Semenyih, Selangor) and invited me along. The first thing that came to my mind was: “sure, that would look great on my Facebook page, me on the peak of a hill”.
Broga is known as one of the easier hills to hike and there are great views along the hike and at the top. But my experience was:
1) I was panting all the way
2) View? What view?
I just wanted to finish this hellish torture and reach the top. So that was my first hike: boring, insignificant, uninspiring.
Sometime after, my girlfriend and I decided to go to Sabah for a holiday. While researching about “what to do in Sabah”, I saw numerous posts on how people described its famous mountain as a “you’ve-never-been-to-Sabah-if-you’ve-never-hiked-Kinabalu” sort of place. So why not? This would make an even better profile picture.
Up until the day of my hike, I was still excited more about imagining myself snapping a selfie at the top, rather than imagining the top itself.
But all that soon changed. Yes, I rushed through the first hour or so of the hike – I wanted to reach the peak as quickly as possible – no looking around, no enjoying the experience, just a straight-on charge.
People say that it is when you are weak and suffering that you begin to appreciate what you have and what’s around you. And it was when I started to get exhausted that I realised what was around me.
I was a stranger in a strange land. I had never seen those trees before, those flowers, those insects. The air was different – it was moist, cool, refreshing. The environment was different.
Nature was all over the place – the sound of nature, the sight of nature, the smell of nature.
The people were different – none were rushing, all were smiling, all were in great spirits, all were in awe of this world that we live in. It was then that I realised that my mental circuits were changing as well.
The next five hours of the hike felt different for me, and so were the remaining five hours of climbing the next morning. It was no longer about myself, but about getting closer to this world that God has created.
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