At my workplace, on most Friday evenings, a common discussion during coffee is how to escape from Bangalore during the weekend. Yes, on Monday mornings, ‘weekend spent the best way’ award goes to the guy who escaped the farthest!! No wonder travelling is possibly the most common hobby among MNC crowd today. Next in the list would be photography. Some of us could take to these hobbies out of sheer boredom/peer pressure, but am sure along the way we learn more than we bargained for. Of course, the fact that this crowd comparatively has more disposable income helps them in pursuing these hobbies.
After interacting with few guys who are quite seriously pursuing these hobbies and also personally pursuing travel to some extent, I could not help but ask the question – is there more to it than just escapism? Agreed, Bangalore is no longer the city it was and any sane guy would want a break from this madness. It is possibly true for most Indian cities. Nobody likes the noise and the chaos. We need a breather from this madness to recharge ourselves to live through the next week. But, then, note that the most preferred escape destinations are the ones where there is ample opportunity to spend time with nature. These destinations are the ones where human intervention is as low as possible and nature is in its natural splendid form. There is something magical about these places and at the same time there is something very repulsive about concrete jungles we live in. It is as if the finest of human emotions easily manifest when surrounded by pristine nature and also easily get suppressed amidst the noise and cacophony of cities. There is magic in the mighty mountains, in the pristine beaches, in the deep forests and soothing rivers.
I am yet to meet anyone who does not like being close to nature. How desperate one is to spend time with it might vary, but I have not heard anyone say that they hate the mountains and valleys!! In fact, those who have experienced the pleasure of being close to nature always seek more of it. Sadly, some people might not have the opportunity to wander out of the concrete jungles and for them it is hard to appreciate the joy of being amidst nature. But, I can safely bet that once they experience it, they would start relishing it. Maybe, it is just that humans are designed to live a simplistic life in sync with nature. Maybe, we are designed to spend little time on meeting our basic survival necessities and spend most of our time and energy in understanding and pursuing the finer aspects of life. On the contrary, the modern day lifestyle asks us to spend most of our time and energy in meeting the over hyped materialistic demands, with little scope to focus on the fine things. I think this is where the repulsiveness towards this lifestyle starts. Unfortunately, we are so tuned to it that we get used to it and continue to live with the distaste. More unfortunate is when we don’t even realize that there is something wrong with this, until it is too late.
I could safely argue that the desire to be close to nature is not escapism from reality, but actually escapism from an imposed materialistic lifestyle. I strongly feel that spending time with nature is one of the best ways to discover ourselves. This gives us an opportunity to move away from the never ending materialistic demand and consumption cycle and take an honest view of what we actually need and what we actually are. It would also give us an opportunity to question our preconceived notions about many things in life. These are the subtle moments where we can take off our masks and shed the multiple layers we cover ourselves with and do an honest self analysis. The question is – are these possible only amidst the mountains and rivers? May be not, but they make the process much easier. So, whenever I get an opportunity to be amidst nature, I need to make sure to grab it with both hands.
The best way to end this post would be with a quote from the movie Into The Wild, true story of Christopher McCandless:
“Two years he walks the earth. No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road. Escaped from Atlanta. Thou shalt not return, 'cause "the West is the best." And now after two rambling years comes the final and greatest adventure. The climactic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual pilgrimage. Ten days and nights of freight trains and hitchhiking bring him to the Great White North. No longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild. - Alexander Supertramp May 1992”