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A friend reminded me that at 50, we are the youngest of the old people.
But I cannot wait to get to the next stage and become the oldest of the old people.
For, I’ve read that in the Hindu way of life, there are four stages:
The Student Life 0r Brahmacharya
The Householder Life or Gruhust
The Retired Life or Vanprasth
The Sanyaas Life (looked for a word but no English word seems to capture the meaning completely).
[read more here]
This concept has been mentioned in the Mahabharat too.
The logic is this:there are stages in which the mind, body and soul are all perfectly in sync and ready for a particular stream of activities. If one’s life is lived as per the preparedness of the mind/body/soul for these activities then the individual enjoys it wholeheartedly and completes all the activities that are possible to pursue most efficiently during that stage. A lack of synchronicity leads to dissonance and regret / disenchantment / lack of fulfillment in various ways.
Of most interest to me right now is the last stage – when one must take sanyaas and retire. The logic here is that once one’s usefulness to the world is over, one must pluck oneself out of the system and go and manage life and death in solitude. (Not unlike all the old age homes that people go away to.) To me the attraction lies in going away to the Himalayas.
Having just returned from my 4th trip to the heart of the Himalayas – Ladakh, I am convinced that that is the place I want to die in.
This trip in the middle of winter was taken on as a personal challenge.
The idea of -15 degrees C was scary. The fear of the unknown limits the possibilities of life experiences and the only way to get rid of that fear was to go out and experience the root of that fear. So after a many what-ifs and abort-mission mental battles, I finally went. The 2.5 suitcases I’d packed, had enough warm clothes and supplies to kit out an entire Everest expedition! But then a nomad must never be afraid of carrying her entire household with her!
And there I was! At the top of the world. Doing fun things in the middle of Ladakh winter. With my favorite people – the rural people of India!
Cannot wait to grow old and move there permanently as prescribed by the scriptures!
A few pictures of these mountains that call out to me again and again:
The calming stupor has now worn off, and soon more notes from my travels will be added.
Look out for more in the Himalayan Diaries.