All good things are wild and free
-Henry David Thoreau
I reflect upon this quote composed by the world famous nature lover and worshipper. And the words can’t help but strike my mind with their dual meaning. Free- freedom, independence, liberty, choice. It’s the essence of what I would love to be, in my own quirky way! And upon closer look I see that the path to this “free”, is indeed, most of the times totally “free” i.e. inexpensive, cheap in monetary value, but invaluable in experience and happiness! It is just that we need to look for those opportunities or places to be totally free!
I look back and think of the best times, as my mind soaks in the essence of this quote. And my various jaunts in nature come to life before my eyes! Here is where I have sought freedom of thought, freedom of expression, freedom to be just myself. Maybe you too could seek the same at these places, if you’re in search of freedom?
- Lofty mountains of Ladakh: The towering mountains emerging from the barren browns seem to represent a raw freedom. The kind that rebels against the status quo. Mountains are supposed to be lush green and bountiful in our typical dreams, right? But as I trudged along the arid climes of Ladakh, these mountains took on a new meaning. They were free to be what they truly are—desolate yet dreamy beings that seemed to touch the sky. But hey, words are seldom enough to talk about lofty concepts like freedom and independence. The feel is best experience by a visit to the lofty mountains of Ladakh!
- Flock of returning birds at Tadoba: A trip into the jungle on a safari, and one it bound to come across a chirpy flock of birds returning to their homes at the end of the day. Synchronized in flight to sheer perfection, they traverse the vast vistas of the skies—open, never-ending. This is the freedom in the wild- the ability to go anywhere. But I observe these birds and see that, with freedom comes responsibility. I see the doting mother and father birds heading home with a morsel of food for their young ones! Want to experience this facet of freedom cum responsibility for yourself? The main road of Tadoba National Park is open even during the monsoons and a great place to experience such free flocks!
- Plunging waterfalls of Dudhsagar: The agility and speed of water is an in-the-face form of freedom, I think. A visit to any of the wonderful waterfalls in the country, and I find my thoughts flowing freely like the flowing waters of the falls. The water roams around, at its own will, often guided by the elements around—stones, ravines and trees. Sometimes it lets go of its will and just plunges to unknown depths! It is free to chart its own course, as it frolics about with bubbling freedom. Want to experience such flowy freedom? Visit the Dudhsagar waterfalls in Goa, a sheer 600 metre cascade of the Mandovi waters.
- Swirling Seas of Goa: Churning, ripping apart the surrounding sands without mercy. This is the savage form of freedom. As the waters take on their own desired form, I look at the darker side of being free- destructive, dangerous. I dare not tread into the swirling waters but watch this unrest from afar. Truly, freedom can turn the wrong direction and serve all the wrong purposes! Try going Goa in monsoon or pick any hamlet along the Western coasts of India, for a different kind of free experience!
- Desert dunes of Rajasthan: Flexible and agile, ready to remould whenever it wants. That’s the dune of the desert. The particles of sand have a mind of their own, lifting and shifting with the upcoming winds as they please. The vast and dry expanses are their playground, with no one to stop them from this play. It is this freedom of the dusty sands that makes a desert an ever-changing and surreal terrain. Visit the sand dunes of Jaisalmer to experience nature’s free!
I think of these nature-elements and how they represent freedom in all its ways. My mind wanders to how we humans fit into this concept called freedom, especially since many people today feel constrained and stuck. Were we not once wild beings, free to roam the lands in search of food? Then how come we have come to this, where many of us feel enmeshed by life’s responsibilities? And then I get it. Freedom is as much about these humongous marvels of nature as it is about tiny things. The freedom to write what we want, the freedom to speak what our mind says, the freedom to act on our will. The freedom to be a part of a country, that allows all this, and much more. It is time we discover these small, hidden freedoms in our lives and make the most of them for a happy, fulfilling life!
So why not head to those free spaces and find your own freedom?
Happy Independence Day!
Be Free, Be Wild, Be Responsible!