By Michael Maguire
In our normal lives in the US, there are very few opportunities to yell at the top of your lungs or to sit in silence amazed by something natural – in India I did both in the same day!
Half the group hiked from Agora to Dodital, a very sacred place in Hinduism, and camped under the most magnificent stars that I have ever seen. The following morning six of the fourteen of us at Dodital set out to ascend Darwa Pass, a 12,500 foot snowy ridge. The climb was hard – at one place the snow was waist deep – but our determination was unwavering.
Handsome Himalayan Monal were a splendid sight along the trek. Their vibrant, awe-inducing feathers were quite a sight.
Eventually we made it, we triumphed over the elements and gravity – we got to the top. We savored every moment atop the ridge; the echoes of my shouts can probably still be heard somewhere in the Himalayas. Five Himalayan griffons graced us at the top of the peak, next to the wide open sky.
For a few moments, we were able to breathe freely. For a few moments, I was wild.
After our descent back to Dodital, we had an enormous fire by the sacred lake. As a group, we sat quietly by the lake and peered up into the heavens, silently reflecting. I was reminded of my bantam existence in the universe and of my overwhelming appreciation for what I was experiencing.
I watched the bright eye of Canis Major, Sirius, which followed Orion, who tracked Taurus with his bow. The scene silently exploded in a way that no one in our small group of adventurers had ever seen; we were so far removed from the lights of any city and the ills that they illuminate.
Society can blind us from many important and beautiful things, both literally and figuratively. Just as the lights of cities blind our ability to see the stars, society can make it difficult to see what is important in life. Some societies hold monetary wealth in high regard, often this wealth is achieved through duplications and consumption of natural resources.
We become better acquainted with ourselves when we let comforts go and embrace the wild and natural world. I know that in my life these experiences are profoundly important, and that our trip to India was just the first of many transcendental journeys in my life.