My bike ride uphill was already in its 7th hour. I was ascending towards the mighty mountain pass named ‘ Khardung La’ arguably, the highest motorable all weather road in the world.
I had reached an elevation above 5200 meters. Oxygen was scarce and I had to push my bicycle at times just so that my heart rate stayed under control.
Patiently, with all my soul, I moved on.
Past a hair pin bend, I saw a milestone:
‘Khardungla – 1km’
Excited to know that I will be at the highest motorable road in the world soon, I got on my bicycle and pedalled onward.
After 15 minutes, I, with my racing heart, finally reached the summit.
I felt an inexplicable calm at that moment.
I had anticipated that I would jump and sing after achieving such a challenging goal and crossing out one of the tasks on my Impossible list.
But I felt tranquil and meditative.
At that moment, I wondered,’Have I changed as a person because of this achievement?’
‘Am I any different at the summit as compared to who I was at the last milestone?’
To my heart, there wasn’t any difference at all between the two states of being at the two different places.
Then I extrapolated this thought further.
‘How was I any different at the last milestone as compared to the second last milestone?’
‘Extrapolating further, how was I any different at the beginning of the ride uphill as compared who I was at the summit?’
I realised that I was much stronger in my mind at the beginning than at the end.
To dare to bicycle up Khardung La is no mean feat.
Especially when you don’t know the terrain, the temperature is low, the UV rays are burning your skin and you have limited oxygen to inhale.
At the beginning of the journey my mind was steadfast.
And I made my first decision.
Of choosing the right path.
The second decision was made out for me by the road itself.
There was a milestone after every kilometre of the road, giving me constant feedback about the progress.
Even if I was moving at a measly average pace of 4.5km per hour, each milestone informed me that I was on the right path.
I realised that along with my willpower, these two decisions of choosing the right path and having milestone markers made sure I reached the summit.
Without any of the above three,
b) the right path
I would have not been able to scale the mighty Khardung La.
Drawing a parallel to how we approach a challenge in life,
We ought to have these three factors in place to achieve something.
We need to develop the willpower to persevere, we need to choose the right path and finally we need to have little milestones that reassure us of the correct direction we’re headed in.
Say, if someone has the goal to be a better artist,
He needs to
a) Show up everyday to practice his art and stay away from distractions (willpower)
b) Choose a way of life that ensures maximum learning (the right path)
c) Have an archive to see how better he is as compared to a time in past, have a mentor who could give him honest critical feedback (milestones)
If one designs a way of life based on these three simple steps,
Progress will become a way of life.
Scaling summits will become a habit.
The path sculpts a man into who he could be if he chooses to get past milestone after milestone while demonstrating the willpower to keep moving no matter what.
Coming back to the question I had posed myself earlier,
‘How was I any different at the beginning of the ride uphill as compared who I was at the summit?’
In the begining, while downhill, I had only the sight of a goal, a solitary summit I had to scale.
At the end, while at the summit, I have a vantage.
I have gained a wider panaroma, a broader worldview,
And from here,
I can choose the next summit of the many that I gained access to.
You climb up, not just to enjoy the view, but to gain a perspective,
to choose the next summit in sight,
But never beyond
the undying spirit of human endeavour.
I wish you too choose a summit of your own to climb, and from there scale on further and gain wisdom and perspective in this elegantly revealing process.
May you realise more of who you truly are.
Crossing off an ambitious goal from my Impossible List,
I am ready to dream bigger,
To the undying spirit of human endeavor.