SWIMMING IN THE MOUNTAIN, CLIMBING IN THE SEA

Ashok Silwal
ashoksilwal@gmail.com

Born in a landlock/linked country but with the highest mountains in the world, it seems impossible to be able to talk about sea and mountains. Yet, the mountains are my passion and my profession (I’m often in mountain as guide, trekking or hiking and mountain is inside me) and I have experienced the sea a bit, while traveling as journalist, in Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Both realities impress me a lot, whether it’s looking at the horizon line above the waves, where the sky and the ocean seem to touch each other, whether looking, with the nose turned up, at the snow-capped Himalayan peaks that stand out against the sky.

An idea of immensity, of infiniteness, of power takes hold of me.

The sea and the mountain bring you to the meditation, to the awareness of Divine Creation, to the Beginning and the End. And on the other hand, the awareness of your fragility, your smallness.

So whether it is the Ocean or the Himalayas, the sea or the mountains, these manifestations of the grandeur of Nature lead you to prayer, to silence, to respect.

And maybe the moments when you feel it better are the sunrises and the sunsets, they add the circular movement of life to the static nature of the infinite.

If one places oneself ‘philosophically’ or ‘spiritually’ above what he sees, then the sea and the mountain are the same expression of something that is above us, something immense and powerful; and ‘we are dust that will return to dust’, to the rock of the mountain as to the water of the sea.

Now, returning to the reality of landscapes, ways of life, colors, shapes… what does the mountain have that the sea does not have, and what does the sea have that the mountain does not have ? And what have they in common beyond what we have just said ?

Obviously, the sea and the mountains, from many points of view are very different and we ourselves feel these realities very differently, based on our character, origins, education, experience, tastes, tendencies, sensitivities …

Let’s start with a bit fun and irony CHEMICALLY: the sea is iodine, the mountain is oxygen! The waves contain iodine which is great for your thyroid and subsequently boots your immune system. Having adequate levels of iodine in the body ensures that energy levels and metabolic rates are optimal. Seawater is a large natural source of iodine. The mountain air is special with higher concentration of oxygen, cleaner, cleasing the hugs of the waste ge of oxygen accumulated by urban life. Mountains are good for our body; they stimulate the production of red blood cells. (as altitude increases, the percentage of oxygen in the air remains constant but atmospheric pressure decreases, making the air thinner, so less oxygen is available)

This ‘break’ can also be seen from the point of view of GEOMETRY! At the seaside, horizontal lines prevail, in the mountains, vertical ones. Both go towards infinity but the eye has a different approach. The mountain perhaps required more effort to focus; the sea is ‘easier’: smooth, flat, crushed. The mountain is step and rough.

And it is clear that this is a somewhat stereotypes.

But let’s continue with the proposed ACTIVITIES: at the seaside, as in the mountains, the body has spaces to enjoy: walking, swimming, paragliding, kitesurfing, climbing rock faces or riding over waves with the wind, or sailing or motorboats. Whether they are sports for amateurs on holidays or extreme sports, everyone can find activities that entertain them in their favorite environment. The activities are different but often stimulate the same states of mind such as courage, resistance, patience, willpower.

And what about the FAUNA and FLORA ? There is a big difference between a yak and a fish! From rhododendrons to dune reeds! Each environment has its own characteristics and then it becomes a matter of personal taste, of affinity. You may prefer and feel better in the lushness of the mountain forest or in a desert expanse.

It is almost question of AESTHETIC: the SHAPES, THE COLORS are different, the SCENTS and the forms of HABITAT (the houses are different and adapt to the needs of the environment using local materials); the impact is obviously very different. You generally associate the mountains with the cold and the sea with the heat.

And then the STATE OF MIND of sea lover+s and that of mountain lovers is different. Perhaps the sea, when it is ‘normal’, i.e. not stormy, leads more to relaxation, to doing nothing, just lying your body in the sun. The mountain is more dynamic, it pushes you to observe, to move. The mountain is up and down, the seaside is flat.

But, thinking about it, let’s go back to our starting idea: many differences from many points of view but one NATURE that shows us in different forms its Beauty, its Power, its Strength, its Immensity…, whether it is good weather or storm, whether it is serenity or tempest and more.

The voice of the sea as the voice of the mountain tell us about NATURE which welcomes us with open arms, endless wonders and emotions, if we know how to preserve it with love and respect.

Silwal is Langtang Goodwill Ambassador and advisor of Villiage Tourism Promotion Forum Nepal. He is tour/trek instructor and guide too.

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