After landing in the US for our almost annual visit to our son and his family, we went exploring the surroundings, looking for lucrative walking options.
I love walking. Once I had to visit a doctor for some ailment and was asked: “Sair karte ho?” (Do you go for walks?) I replied that I did, and was asked: “Since when?” I went quiet, trying to remember when I had started “walking”, in that sense of the term. “Always,” I said. As far back as my memory goes, I remember walking every evening with a friend or friends.
Our search in the US led us to a beautiful walking trail close to the house. It was beside a canal that cut across the woods. The first 10 minutes of the trek had us panting, and it hit us that we were out of shape. As we walked on, the breathing eased and we began to notice our surroundings. Near the edges of the canal were hundreds of lotus plants, standing gracefully and proud, a tribute to nature’s bounty and the Creator’s magnanimity.
The chirping of the birds hiding in the trees was the music we miss in the cacophony of urban life. Deer were at the opposite bank for water. Soaking in the greenery, we saw a family of geese swimming, more like floating. The majestic pace of the mother goose and the beauty of the young ones in tow, the beautiful trees and the quiet of the surroundings penetrated my consciousness. Detached from the noise, the clatter, and the clutter of my life back home, I discovered new sights and sounds with new eyes and ears.
The occasional sound of footsteps on gravel as other trekkers walked past accentuated the feeling of oneness with nature. Shutting out all negativity, resentment, impressions, complaints, and reproaches, I opened that door just a chink to that space within the heart that is pure peace, absolute quiet, and devoid of all emotion, still, motionless, empty. Back home, for an experience even close to this, I would have to travel hours and still not be able to get it as and when I liked.
What was so special about the routine, natural, mundane, ordinary action of walking? Everyone does it; the pace differs but the motion is the same. So why was this trek different? I think the contrast between the two places took my breath away. Some moments in life are more profound than years of living and existing. Even going about everyday activities can make an indelible, unforgettable memory.
The writer is a freelance contributor based in Ludhiana