by Sarah Z. Virani (ME118)

(3rd Place)

I could feel the wind rushing past my face, the birds whistling, the ground crunching and sweat trickling down my back. My breathing, initially erratic was now more controlled as I trudged along. I took another moment to take in the area we had covered and made a mental snapshot. My heart skipped – it looked like somebody had painted the earth in all these wonderful colours. No matter how many times I stopped to look at the view, I never tired of it. The hills stood gracefully, with maize plants growing at various levels and carving steps on them. The water of the lake glistened reflecting the beautiful blue sky, streaked with cotton-wool clouds. The branches of the trees swayed giving breeze scented with the fruits they yielded. I wished I could plant my feet into the ground and stand there forever. I felt on top of the world. I’d hiked such a great distance, I’d reached a point where I was as close to freedom as I’d ever hoped.  

My whole life I craved to find the one thing where I could lose myself, empty my mind and come back feeling renewed. Being a girl from a conservative family, it was difficult for me to be as adventurous and my thoughts wanted me to. My brother would travel with the school on treks, while I’d stay home because it was “better” for me. It really didn’t sit well with my heart and I longed for an escape.  

I got my chance a few years ago to spend a day hiking in the jungle and my experience was absolutely breathtaking. I felt like I’d found my wings – they’d been hiding in my feet all this time, itching to stretch out. Suddenly I found myself hiking every other Sunday and every time I came back, my wings felt stronger and my heart lighter. Every peak I conquered, pushed me to climb a steeper one and gave me a new perspective on the world around me. Every time I thought the I knew a place, seeing it from a different angle, opened up a whole new world. Every time I came back down I felt changed. I’d go back to my normal life, but I never forgot the world up there.  

Fears, I’d never known I had, erased themselves. I learnt to trust my instincts because nature gave me clarity that the city silenced. I let go of the negative thoughts that made me insecure and my worries about my life. As a hiked, I let the sounds of the leaves calm my mind and the sound of feet hitting the ground create a soothing rhythm. I allowed nature to take control of what I could not and seemed to fly higher. Flying higher meant I’d come back down even faster, with more power and energy to deal with my problems.  

The world is so beautiful. Sometimes we’re going through a really tough time and you really wish something significant would change in your life. But sometimes, we have to make that change. We have to put ourselves out there because, as cliche as it sounds, after every hard climb there is freedom and there most definitely is the most incredible view. So, fly so high your troubles can’t reach you. 

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