Scaling heights puts life in perspective

Whenever I view life from an altitude, I stand reminded of my relative existence in the world. I realize that I am a speck in this spectacular scheme of life. My worries begin to fade away.

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Self-reflecting while soaking in top-down views at the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharashtra, India.
Self-reflecting while soaking in top-down views at the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharashtra, India.

The view from the top of a terrace, balcony, fort, building, tower, or mountain range is an engaging and beautiful sight. I believe there is something cathartic about a bird’s eye view.

My earliest memories of enjoying panoramic views go back to my hostel life in Delhi. At the end of an exhausting day, I would climb to the common room on the fourth floor, plonk myself by the wide casement windows and watch the city, especially at dusk. Twinkling lights of the bustling habitation appeared like a web of intertwined stars. Serpentine rows of vehicles, inching forward, formed a string of glowing red embers garlanding the urban jungle. Blurred sounds of horns at a distance, neither too loud, nor too faint, filled the air.

As I sat, viewing life from a height, I’d think about what each passenger in the car was going through, living his or her own story based on experiences, ups and downs, happiness and distress. People walking on the roads looked like ants marching on, carrying their own perceptions of the day gone by. So many lives in a state of flux simultaneously. Predictable and yet so unpredictable!

It was hard to imagine how tiny I was in this larger spectacle of the human race. More like “Oh! I also exist.” Soon, I’d find that any difficulty or incident that I was mildly upset about, simply disappeared. I’d realize that my life with my own ecosystem of struggles, aspirations, and relationships was not that complex. And even if it was, it was manageable. Everything is, ultimately. I remember almost laughing at myself for feeling ruffled earlier that day because the shirt I had wanted to wear to college was crumpled.

Similarly, whenever I go trekking, I rediscover this perspective. While climbing up, I imagine that I will feel a sense of achievement when I reach the peak. However, when I do reach the top and absorb the view below, the towering scale of life blows me away. I see streams of fluffy clouds, vast expanse of the powder blue sky, trees swooning in the breeze, and bustling settlements in the distance with countless concurrent lives. Yet, there is a balance. It is fragile but resilient. There is peace and quiet, but no one’s at rest. Every atom of energy is living.

I stand reminded of my relative existence in the world that we know of. I am a speck in this spectacular scheme of life. I feel humility and gratitude to be the chosen one to participate in this unfathomable grandeur. I am here for a span of 80 to 100 years to enjoy and replenish nature’s inexplicable universe of actions and reactions. I, my problems, my likes and dislikes, are just so puny.

This ability to see myself as a part of the larger macrocosm has helped me take myself less seriously.

So go ahead and scale new heights. Take arduous journeys. Reach more tops. Achieve. Feel elated. Feel dejected. Do it all. But don’t forget to breathe, play and smile. If you’re going through a personal crisis and feeling terrible, calm down. You are not the only one. If you’re winning awards and bursting with pride, again, calm down. You are also not the only one.

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