Eighteen days up in the mountains makes coming down to write a blog pointless. I’m amazed that I should say this, but momentarily, writing seems an unimportant pursuit. That heady call of passion, that which I know to be the cornerstone of my cosmic existence, has suddenly receded far from my conscious will.
Even on the journey, sitting in empty teahouse dining spaces, my spirit warmed by blazing yak dung from the stoves, the patois of lodge-owning families and stark alone-ness, I would detest penning minute thoughts in the notebook. They came, crowding over my shoulder, those million observations being made every wakeful hour, insisting on finding mention in the empty pages. They had to be noted, lest the next day’s overwhelming sensations blotted them out of existence.
Memory is a fickle mistress, unlike the mountains, conspiring with amnesia, to make all living sensation redundant. Impressions floated, past you, around you, like whiffs of ice cloud, leaving you breathless, blind, till you were struggling to find a way in a white-out.
And then, just as inexplicably, they were gone. The sun of another morning, bright and unforgiving, leaves little trace of the earlier day behind.
Without those recollections, the journals of yester, you seem to be born anew each day, a thing without precedence, a thing as if that never existed before, a thing past-less therefore unpurposeful.
The mountain tells a new story each morning. You learn to look out of the window first thing upon waking, learn to read the tale it foretells, gloating or crestfallen as you try to decipher what the day has in store for you.
Only years of experience will help you get it correct. For the golden peaks lie, often misleading with false promises; the dawning sunlight can jolly well play willful pranks with the derelict urbanite who’s dared fallen in delusional love with it.
I’d stop to catch a breath, or an adoring glance at a crest, many times through the trail and discover myself the lone beast in my horizon. There was Ama Dablam, Cho Oyu, Thamsherku, Kangtega. Not a human habitation around. No shingled roof. No fellow trekker. No porter.
No tingling bell of yaks grazing further downslope.
No ravens floating overhead.
Among gnarled juniper brush. Withered dwarf thorns still untouched by spring. Drooping rhododendron buds. Hairy moss strung around high branches softly lifted by a chill breeze where sunrays dare not enter.
Among unlimited dirt ribbons tracked over slopes by uncounted clogs and hooves. Steep stone stairs. Lichen sheathed boulders. Dark cavernous rocks. A field of pebbled tsortens. The poking heads of iris by the wayside.
I’d pause and stare at a mountain, scarcely breathing.
Why did I feel that the mountain in question was alive, had a face, had eyes, and was wordlessly staring me back, gently watching over?
Maybe I’m a poet after all.
Maybe I am the headless fool I’ve long suspected.
The kind that Life, with its grizzly burden, hasn’t managed to snuff out yet. Maybe, in the dark shelter of an overhanging rock in the mind’s cave, through the gale and hypothermia-inducing horrendous downpour, some grain of romantic philosophy continues to flicker.
So I, can see eyes in mountains. Feel a mute benevolent presence in dead stones.
Words become superfluous in such landscapes.
For a while, back among civilization, a week and hundreds of miles after the journey ended, my head still rings with the silence of the road.
Words. The language of Man. Sometimes is so unwanted.