The Valley and the Mountain Top

A traveler began a journey in the valley. She had lived in the valley for generations. It was said that a woman shall not leave her soil, travel alone to foreign lands, yet she did not listen. She heard the calling of the mountain top, and yearned every day of her life to attain to that height. So one day, she decided to leave everything behind, her family, her children, her house. She looked at the mountain top, covered with snow, majestic, solitary, imbued with power she could not name.

Onward she went. It was a frightening journey. There were fearsome animals, dangerous crossings, narrow cliffs, yet nothing had stopped her. She was totally unafraid, because her mind had only one thing, the top of that mountain. Months passed, and the mountain had only grew a little closer, yet this did not discourage her. She had met many people along the way. There were the villagers with hospitality, the little girl who wanted to be like her, the lonely man who followed her, the starving dog that ate the food she gave. In the end, no one could follow her, because the path was full of dangers. People were always enthusiastic in the beginning, proclaiming their inexhaustible courage, promising to follow her until the end. Only the dog accompanied her always. She named the dog Friend, and together they travelled for another ten years.

The mountain top grew ever closer, and the coldness became ever more penetrating. The dog was shaking. She was shaking. On a desolate rock platform, they rested, raised fire, and looked at the enormous beauty below. They had climbed so high, that her home was but a tiny speck in the valley. She felt proud, yet a sense of loss were slowly creeping into her mind. She suddenly realized that she had no one, that she had left everything, and if not for Friend, she would be completely alone.

It was at that moment, a lightening stroke, and it startled the traveler out of her tiresome dream, and she looked to her left, and suspected Friend was not breathing. She nudged Friend, and there was no reaction. She checked, and realized Friend had died. She was speechless.

After the burial, she went on her journey. The journey had become an escape from the sorrow of losing her only friend, the one who followed her till death. After some time, the sorrow had become so immense that she could not walk, nor could she see, and collapsed by the side of the road after walking aimlessly for days. She cried, unstoppable tears flowed and were frozen, and her face felt the stinging pain of water becoming ice. She fell asleep.

When she woke, she looked at the sky, it was the most beautiful and clear blue she had ever seen. Then she turned her head, and she could not see the mountain top. Confused, she stood up, and looked around, and found herself on the top of the world, where nothing was hidden from her sight. Her home, the little girl, the villages, the men and women who pursued her, the death of her Friend, the dangerous crossings, rushing rivers, frozen rocks, lonesome trees. Here, she had enormous power, which unveiled anything hidden below. She looked at herself, and saw that the yearning had not stopped, that the top of the world was still under the sky. She yearned for the sky, the stars, the endless space beyond.

She realized that even when she attained the height of the stars, there would still be something higher. She looked at the valley where she came from, and saw that what she was looking for had been there the whole time. It was there as well as here. The power she sought was on the top of a mountain, yet the source of that power was not there, nor was it here, nor was it in the stars and the heavens above. A profound peace encompassed her. Everything changed. She realized that, power is a burden. So she gave it up, and later, she came down the mountain, and on her journey, which had no destination this time, she taught her followers a very simple thing: the valley and the mountain top are one and the same. Seek no power, and let serenity flow.

She had left her home, and never returned, for her home is the world.


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Cover photo by Aman Upadhyay on Unsplash