Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Joys of Hiking - Bonding Through Hiking

When I trekked for the first time my group was a size 19! i.e. myself & 18 strangers bound towards a common destination! It was a 3 nights 4 days trek to Vasota vide Sholapur train. By the end of the trek, we had exchanged each other’s name & numbers & continued to be in touch for almost 4-5 years! Today 15 years hence, at-least 3 from that group of 18 are dear to me and we are still in regular touch despite the changing priorities of life. As far as other members are concerned, if we do happen to bump into each other, there still exists a glow and warmth in recollecting the lovely time spent. Old smiles simply return. Nothing exemplifies human BONDING better than experiencing a trek together. It is my experience that during treks especially one that involves spending several nights together one ends up bonding on an inner level. Reasons for same could be several. I will run my theory here.

One reason is sharing of pains in reaching the peak. One has to undergo an arduous trek to reach the camping point for the night and every person realizes that the other person has also worked equally hard to reach that point. This brings an affinity and respect for the other individual that overcomes any other dislikes in individual traits. (Every other negative fades in face of this respect). You may only want to help fellow hikers to make it to the top no matter what your state of mind or body. Celebration is in the company and not self. With a trek there are no weakling, everyone who reaches the camping point is a winner whether he arrived first or last.

Another reason for bonding is that in the trek, the entire group is isolated from the society at large (especially in Himalayan treks). In short, you form a society of your own in the wild. This makes you a responsible group and an empowered individual where you sense the importance of your choices & the possible repercussion directly. You have the right to plunder nature or live in harmony with it. You make a deliberate & conscious choice of functioning in harmony with nature by adhering to regulations of cleanliness, avoiding pollution of all kinds and co-operating with each other to face the whims & wraths of nature. You need each other’s help and support to ensure safety and thus every person’s presence becomes relevant. Nature becomes your backbone and you automatically learn to respect it. Thus one feels helpless and powerful at the same time-helpless, every time nature’s fury in rains or snow forces group to be united; powerful, every time you contribute to the group co-operation movement (you realize the relevance & need of your contribution instinctively) or when as a group one is able to withstand the might of nature.

Another 2 reasons that I have identified is that as one treks, at an individual level one ends up knowing more about oneself. Hitherto unknown vista is opened and the individual feels alive and more vibrant. This state by itself has several reasons for it’s presence. At the primitive core, each human starts linking this sense of high to the presence of the company in which he or she arrived to that state. Hence a heightened state of bonding is the result.

Finally, while trekking and plodding with every passing day of trek each individual finds oneself unable to maintain the false composure that would otherwise be seen in the regular society. In other words, every person finds his or her idiosyncrasy exposed. Each person who finds out that he is still accepted by the group despite his or her exposed idiosyncrasies is unwittingly relieved at being accepted for what he or she actually is and not for what he or she normally projects in the society. Due to this acceptance, the bonding occurs at a deeper level which is felt at the instinctual level.

Bonding can happen anywhere and everywhere. Yet, it is really beautiful in a trek when one is in the lap of mother nature. The after-effect never ceases to bring a glow even when one is back in concrete confines of society.

Love, warmth and respect are earned mostly in trying and not necessarily in succeeding. Having learnt that, success is what others bring to you as long as you keep at it.