It was a normal pre-dawn listless ride to the Delhi Airport. While the vehicle cruised, I was stuck in my thoughts. I had a proposed investment meeting in Mumbai and the deal seemed to be necessary for our project. I was confident and in control of the situation. However, a combination of expectation and fear drained my spirits. A big ‘what if’ loomed larger than the moment.
I was a combination of nerves and restlessness and I could not focus on either the journey or the conversation which the driver wanted to engage in. There was calmness outside but a storm brew inside me.
On reaching the airport, I boarded the flight and was ushered to my chosen comfortable seat. However, by now my anxiety gave way to a feeling of suffocation. Initially I thought that it was because the engines were yet not revving fully. I turned on the vent above and waited for the oxygen flow to become better. The flight started to back up from the parking bay but there was no respite for me. It was at this time that I panicked.
I called the air hostess and complained. The lady looked at me as if to judge if I was genuine or basically a troublemaker. She stood by my side and on receiving another desperate look decided to inform the captain. Twenty minutes later, I was being rushed into an ambulance under the watchful eyes of a ground attendant. Another hour and I was being examined by a doctor at a hospital.
The diagnosis was simple, I was stressed.
I have been considered physically fit not just by myself but also by my family due to a sporty disposition, rather stable blood pressure and rare visits to the doctors. Therefore, the entire event of that day shook me from inside, and to top it all, I had missed out the opportunity of short-term relief through the possible investment.
My question to myself was the relevance of stress for a social entrepreneur. Inherently, we are supposed to be doing good for others, construed as sewa’ (service) in a literal sense. How did the stress sneak in? This question was simple to answer but it lingered inside me long enough to trigger a wave of change which changed my destiny or perhaps put me where I always belonged.
With my physical health confidence shaken, I was looking for an opportunity to bounce back. An innocuous promotional mail from a travel company would have definitely slipped unnoticed. However, I was curious to see the proposal of Kailash Manasarovar trip. Googling, I could find that it was physically challenging enough to get to the abode of Shiva to fit into my plans of proving my fitness.
A trip away from phones and work did seem to de-stressing as well. A campaign with friends seemed futile as they had other plans for summer vacations. But any number of dead ends was not going to dampen my spirit which was soaring with just the thought of a trek in the mountains. The biggest challenge was to convince the family.
I started with the kids, which was like a cakewalk. The six and four year olds became disinterested in my resolve when they realised that they were not coming along. My wife however had a few questions which soon melted when she saw my spirits.
Emboldened by my initial success I approached my mother where a stone wall awaited me. All the facts, data and examples fired by me turned into snowflakes in front of the immovable NO of my mother.
For the next few days, it was a question of who blinks first. I used my silence to stress my point and she used her ignorance to thwart my efforts. Finally, she came up with a plan B. She would come along if I had to go. This was a like a small opening in the stone wall. I thought to play along believing that she would give up once she does her own research of fitness requirements. I was naive once again to misjudge my mother’s resolve.
The next four months were spent in preparations. I was putting in more hours in the office to ensure that I would not be missed. My mother became busy shopping, web surfing and speaking to friends who had gathered the courage to trek to the top of divinity.
Finally, armed with a priceless Chinese Visa and good wishes, my mother and I reached Kathmandu on way to our individual lakshya (goal)—The Kailash.
Standing on the bank of the tranquil ‘Manasarovar’ and witnessing Kailash was cathartic. All questions melted into nothingness and only nothingness remained. The stillness of fresh water amidst the strong winds seemed to be drawing its stability from God Himself. The rays of the sun were reflecting back into the sky with increased sharpness and warmth.
Everything around seemed to signify the frugality of the divine. No bells were needed to announce our arrival. Every speck of sand seemed to be expecting us and every breath was familiar.
The dark cloud curtain shielding the top of Kailash gave way to the glimpse of the majesty as we bent in obeisance. It seemed to become brighter with every act of respect at our end. Simultaneously, with every shade of the divine shining, there was a change in the colour of the barren land. It was a surge of emotion. No questions remained. The ego surrendered itself and for the first time I felt devoid of control but completely safe.
It dawned on me that six months back, sitting on that fateful flight, I was in complete control of my situation but still there was fear and restlessness. Thirty five years of my life were spent in believing that my ‘self-confidence’ was the key to my success and well-being. This simple generally accepted belief, which was the basis of my life, came crashing down in one divine moment.
I was standing like a child beside the placid lake with tears welling in my eyes. The dry storm brewing outside was matched equally with the calmness inside.
I knew that my life would never remain the same.