Written by: Rana Sohail Ahmad
“Luis, you must be tired but why are you looking so sad?”
Naeza asked her fellow mountaineer softly. We were sitting around the campfire at Fairy Meadows after our dinner. Fairy Meadows is grassland near the Beyal Basecamp site of Nanga Parbat, a mighty eight thousand meters high mountain of the Himalayan Range.
Fairy Meadows is considered as a launching point for mountaineers for the summit on Raikot face of Nanga Parbat. Fairy Meadows is a point having some hotels with wooden huts and basic amenities on the way to the Summit of Nanga Parbat, famous as Killer Mountain.
The view of the white snow-covered mountain was breathtaking even at night and the weather was chilly. Nanga Parbat looked like an old wise man with white hair and a beard who was wrapped in a white shawl. Naeza, Luis, and Fernando were Portuguese mountaineers who planned to summit Nanga Parbat on their first-ever trip to Pakistan. Their guide and the leader of porters, Mahmood was a gentleman with a lot of experience in mountaineering, not only for Nanga Parbat but several peaks of the Himalayas and Karakoram ranges.
I met this mountaineer team at Fairy Meadows as our hotel was the same and we became friends immediately as we had a lot of stories of traveling and trekking to share with each other. They landed in Islamabad two days earlier from Lisbon and traveled extensively by car and jeep to reach the starting point of the trek, and later trekked for several hours to reach Fairy Meadows. It must be tiring for all of them. Naeza and Fernando were very jubilant and gleeful but Luis was quiet and looked tired.
“I am not tired. I actually desired to summit Nanga Parbat as soon as possible without wasting any minute, I dreamed about Nanga Parbat all my life, you know we have been to two eight thousand meter mountains in Nepal earlier but Nanga Parbat always inspired me for a long time, I am just thinking about the moment when I will reach the top. I will only be happy when I will complete my summit” Luis replied to Naeza.
“So you want to say that your desire to summit Nanga Parbat is so powerful that you can’t be delighted before the accomplishment of the task, I really appreciate your craving for your destination. However, have you noticed that by having this utmost desire to reach your destination, you are not enjoying the present moments and exquisite environment around you?”
Naeza replied to Luis, “I fully endorse that the feeling of reaching your destination and the sense of accomplishment of a task are very exciting and electrifying but don’t miss the joy of the journey, my friend. Look at the impressive view of Nanga Parbat from here, it looks stunning, look at the sky where we can see the Milky Way with the naked eye which is a first timer of my life, and feel the warmth of fire in front of us, feel the purest and pollution-free air around you, and above all appreciate the company of lovely fellows who are talking cordially and profoundly, and sharing their experiences of life which are of immeasurable worth.”
She turned her face toward us and continued talking.
“The phenomenon is same for the life, isn’t it? Pursuing the destination of your life with zest may have a pleasure of fulfillment for anyone but if you don’t appreciate your journey and enjoy the path toward your destination, your pleasure will not be converted into happiness. Happiness is a balance between your pursuit of your destination in life and your attention to the details of your walkway for your destination. If you don’t take delight in your journey then your happiness of accomplishment will be hollow. Vice versa, if you find so much pleasure in your journey, spend your time extracting entertainment from things associated with the passage, and forget your destination of life then again it is not happiness.
She added, “I am not a philosopher, but a mountaineer, in my point of view, happiness is a balance between the pursuit of a destination and the enjoyment during the journey, both are very important at the same time. If you reach your destination without appreciating the beautiful journey, you will feel emptiness while standing at the destination which definitely will not be a feeling of accomplishment and happiness”.
“I totally agree with you, Naeza”, Fernando started his talk when Naeza took a break. “I think, the purpose of life is called the destination of your life. The journey of your life comprises assignments related to your life like family, career, friends & society, health, and your Me-Time. Balance in all these five elements of the journey of your life is called success. You can be declared successful if you are able to create the balance of your time among the chapters of family, career, friends & society, your own health, and your me-time. As you just said, maintaining a balance between success and the purpose of life is called happiness which is eternal and imperishable”, he said.
“One other point to note, Fernando,” I tried to add my two cents in the ongoing conversation, “Reaching a destination is the end of a journey so keep in mind that advancement at the right pace even an inch towards your destination is happiness. Secondly, life is not meant to achieve only one goal but it is a set of goals under the bigger umbrella of your purpose in life. Like if you summit Nanga Parbat this week, what do you think, will Luis stop mountaineering or will he be planning for the summit of K2 next year? Isn’t it, Luis?”
Everyone laughed including Luis.
“You are right, after this summit, we will be planning for K2, no doubt about it”, Luis replied to Fernando.
‘O my friends, you rightly summed up everything, however being a religious person, I wish to add something.” Naeza started talking when the laughter stopped, “Eternal happiness will be created when your destination is totally aligned with the purpose of life assigned by God so that life after death is always in consideration during the journey towards the destination.”
Naeza paused and turned to Mahmood and asked. “What is happiness for you, Mahmood?”
“Madam, I may not explain happiness in words but one thing I can tell you is that we don’t have any sadness in our lives. We are shepherds for generations in the mountains, our lives are extremely uncomplicated, and our homes and food are exceptionally simple.” Mahmood smiled and continued talking, “We don’t think too much about happiness but every day in our life is full of happiness and there is no stress in our lives. We spend quality time with our children and our cattle, that’s it”.
“Wow, how blessed you are!” Naeza said with rejoice. “What is happiness for you, Mr. Sohail?” She asked me.
“ I personally believe that we need to manage and create an environment of happiness for ourselves, and we are fully capable of extracting absolute happiness from our lives despite sometimes it becomes very brutal” I replied.
“Please explain, what is absolute happiness, from your point of view?” Fernando asked.
“I gathered that happiness can be divided into two levels: pleasure and absolute happiness,” I replied to Fernando. “Pleasure is derived when we get possession of substances or experienced with some material things which are perishable so the pleasure is always short-lived and momentary. Absolute happiness is such joy that is enduring and it originates mostly with experiences without possession. Regarding absolute happiness, I can share one event of my life. When I was struggling in my career, and had fewer resources, even at that time I used to try to spend quality time with my kids. Every Sunday, we used to go to any park for a picnic with the least amount of expenditure according to my pocket”.
I carried on, “Once a month, on a Sunday, we planned to buy absolutely nothing, no balloons, no ice cream, etc. Rather we used to take some home-cooked food along with us. In fact, it was not related to saving any money but I wanted to train my kids to extract absolute happiness without any type of possession. We, all family, used to play football, enjoy swings in the park, play hide and seek, appreciate the beautiful flowers in the garden, and see colorful butterflies roaming around flowers. These Sundays were full of fun and laughter, and my Kids used to find absolute happiness all day. One evening when we were planning to head back to our home, I reminded my kids to say thanks to their God and their parents if they had really enjoyed their day, as I wanted to train them for gratitude. Ushna, my daughter of age nine, said “O Allah (God) thank you and Mama and Baba, thank you.” Usman, my elder son of age seven said, “Mama and Baba thank you and Allah thank you.” Uzair, my youngest son of age four, was so delightful that instead of saying thanks he turned his face towards the sky and said, “O Allah jee, please give me your face, I want to give you a kiss”. This is a true example of absolute happiness.”
The story of the innocence of a preschooler brought a smile to every face. I continued talking.
“Such event of absolute happiness becomes a part of your body and a part of your long-term memories which shapes your personality which is full of satisfaction and cheerfulness. if you have plenty of such memories of absolute happiness, one day when you will be sitting alone or with your loved ones, you may open the glossy folder of your memories to cherish them which will further enhance your level of happiness. This is the life, isn’t it? “
“Wow, what a lovely evening, Fairy Meadows you are love,” Naeza said with joy. “Beautiful environment, fresh air, sight of Milky Way, and lovely company of knowledgeable friends. It is all because of the mighty Nanga Parbat. O Nanga Parbat jee, please give me your face, I want to give you a kiss”.
We laughed heartily and dismissed our discourse at the bonfire as we had to wake up very early in the morning before sunrise to witness the first sunlight that would bestow upon our charming Nanga Parbat jee.
PS: Word ‘Jee’ is used as a salutation of respect for someone in Urdu.
The writer is a multifaceted author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. With a background in Engineering and Business Administration, he’s the founder and CEO of three thriving companies. Beyond his professional success, Rana is deeply interested in psychology, history, and social sciences. He’s also an avid cyclist, yoga instructor, and health trainer. Rana Sohail Ahmad’s upcoming book offers a unique blend of personal growth and social responsibility, all centered around the theme of happiness with scientific and management practices.