“Nineteen forever”, so sang my favorite English punkista, Joe Jackson, a long time ago. While there may be some truth to the saying ‘the mind never really grows old,’ I wish the same applies to the body. All told, the number nineteen as one’s age is not forever and it’s an impossible mindset to have, especially when pushing 68 in less than a week.
Our family’s much-awaited stay-cation over the last weekend had brought me back to one of my youth’s favorite haunts, the great outdoors. Being away from the city and now surrounded by the bounty of mother nature at this time has all but taken me back to the many lost trails I have long shelved into memory.
Its environment, with its thick rolling white mist, biting cold, pouring rain and whistling wind, is best enjoyed in one’s youth. That, I’ve been reminded finally. During our first year in college, a couple of seniors accompanied us through the deep forest to set camp near Mt. Apo. While there, we wore nothing but smiles as we watched, amazed, as our bodies poured out thick steam while we ran like hippies under a heavy downpour. Woe to the Beatles; it was even near a strawberry field!
Many years later, as part of research work, I joined an eight-month survey of ancestral domains in Zamboanga del Sur, deep into the secondary forest and lived with Subanen. Much later, my partner-to-be and our officemates then scaled our highest peak, marveled at its grandeur and even promised to return when we had a child or two.
Though I could no longer claim this recent trip to be a triumphant return (as a prodigal son to an understanding and forgiving parent), the overwhelming feeling of “I missed this” had never been more obvious from the start. The side effects of aching joints and lower back, although still tolerable (or mostly absent) in our younger years, may not have been forgiving, yet in the end, it was all worth it.
For city dwellers who might have never ventured further than the next block, there lies a world of difference between our cities’ oxygen supply variety and the fresh air only the mountains can deliver.
The overall spectacle from a lofty perch is another unique pleasure to feast on. While the weekend’s panoramic view of the surrounding mountains may not have been much like Mt. Apo’s, it’s still like being up in a plane or admiring the world below through a Philippine Eagle’s eyes.
Slips and falls and hurting backs matter not when equated with nature’s beauty. It will always be breathtaking, even as our kind continually builds fixtures up its slopes as though to conquer and capture its essence. As a Tibetan saying puts it, the earth is patient. The Blues Travelers’ tune brings it up a notch: The mountains win again.
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