As the adage goes, the best things in life are not things. It is especially true in modern life when people have material comforts their grandfathers couldn’t even imagine, yet a nagging feeling that ‘something isn’t enough’ persists. To quench it, it’s no use to stock on more and more things – the wise decision is to collect life experiences. For instance, consider this: is working all year round to save up for buying a yacht when you reach 60 worth missing a rafting trip with your friends this summer?
I guess I’ve been lucky after all because instead of giving me cool toys or other kids’ stuff to celebrate good performance at school my parents took me travelling. Thus I’ve got into a habit of changing perspective after a period of routine. Whether I make a sally to a nearby town or voyage overseas, I always come back refreshed. Any journey is rich in impressions and unique experiences, adding the zest you want to your life.
It stands to reason that tastes differ, and for many people getting a unique experience means no less than exploring underwater caves in exotic locations, or sky-diving, or taking part in a carnival, or a shopping spree in Paris and Milan. As for me, I’ve found that mountains are my number one place of power. As I’m not much of an adrenaline addict I prefer hiking, for it is both an opportunity to savour natural beauty and a bit of a challenge to myself. If it’s a bit of a rocky road, the impressions get printed on my mind more vividly. I remember my first hike and an unbelievably chilly night on the lakeside when we had to keep the campfire burning till dawn just to get warm – and that wakeful night we got to admire the star-studded sky, the Milky Way and shooting stars. A totally thrilling experience.
Not only do mountains appeal to the eye with their magnificent scenery; meeting people on your way can be an uplifting, heart-warming experience, too. This stands true both for hikers and locals in highland villages – those who I happened to encounter were generally pleasant and ready to see me through in case I had trouble with equipment or took a wrong road. My companions and I nearly wandered off into wilderness once were it not for a shepherd who cared to follow us (he was actually nearly running across rough terrain to catch up) and show the right way. He then kept us company for a while, telling all kinds of stories and mentioning all the nearby sights worth seeing. Thanks to him not only did we reach that day’s destination but also visited the places he talked about – and they were well worth it.
Some people who I told about it all were quite skeptical: to them it’s ‘so what?’ Well, of course tastes differ. What I deeply enjoy about mountain trips is that somehow the perception becomes more acute and sensitive – the smells, the colours and the textures are as if enhanced, and I see the positive things about everything that’s happening on the way more clearly. Simple pleasures, which seem nothing more than a tired ‘magical formula’ from self-help articles when you’re in the treadmill, stand out in their actual meaning. Indeed, it’s not hi-end gadgets or designer jewelry collection that will keep you warm during a rainy spell on a hike – it’s a sturdy tent, a patch of sure footing and your friends, the dinner you cook together and the anecdotes you share by the fire. At least I’m the type of person for whom it’s essential to have kindred spirits around to fully relish the pleasant experiences.
Again, tastes differ, of course, but for me every new trip to the mountains turns into a new unique experience in its own right.