Nature is the best medicine – not only for diseases like diabetes (bitter melon), headache (capsicum), urinary tract infection (garlic), constipation (papaya), and the likes; immersing oneself in nature can cure heartaches as well.
If only there’s a pill you can just pop once you get your heart broken to instantly take the pain away, people would be happier – I once believed in that. But now I realized that a person needs to feel the pain and go through the entire process of letting go and moving on for them to become a better person. Unfortunately, the most valuable lessons in life are learned through pain.
Here goes my story of love, pain, and inspiration: I’ve always wanted to go hiking, but it was only three years ago when I got the opportunity to go on an overnight climb to Mt. Pulag. That was also the time when my relationship with a special guy ended. Perfect.
Mt. Pulag, located in Kabayan, Benguet, is the 3rd highest mountain in the Philippines at 2,922 meters above sea level. It is in many Filipino and international mountaineers’ bucket list. It is one of the most popular mountains to climb because of its majestic sea of clouds and scenic trail, especially its montane forests and the grassland summit. Because of its high elevation, the climate on Mt. Pulag is temperate with rains predominating the whole year. During the amihan season, the temperature in the highest point of the mountain is known to dip into sub-freezing temperatures making it the coldest place in the country. According to the native tribes inhabiting the area, Mt. Pulag is the “playground of the gods.” True enough, it is literally the closest to heaven Mountaineers in Luzon can get. It is also one of the well-maintained national parks in the country. No wonder why many people climb Mt. Pulag; one does not need to be fit to reach the summit via Ambangeg, the easiest trail. Seasoned mountaineers, on the other hand, who are looking for an adventure or would like to avoid the crowd, can choose from the alternate trails of Akiki, Tawangan, or Ambaguio.
It was when I was at the summit of this mountain, in awe of the beauty before me, that I was drawn to hiking. It was like love at first sight. I loved every minute of catching my breath and carrying the heavy load of my backpack. I didn’t care if I am dirty, sweaty, and devoid of any make-up. I didn’t care how I look as long as I am comfortable. I felt free of all worries. The only thing on my mind was reaching the summit. There were no heartaches, expectations, or frustrations -only hope and excitement. When I found myself falling in love with the mountain, I lost the man I loved back then. There were no goodbyes or explanations; he simply disappeared and left me hanging and waiting for nothing. Endings can be a start of new beginnings, indeed.
From then on, I went hiking every chance I get. I craved for it. It was my antidepressant drug. I dedicated that year to reinventing myself and to do the things I have always wanted to do but never had the guts to; hiking is one of them. I had a new found source of energy and inspiration. I viewed life in a different perspective. My mom even thought I was crazy. I got tanned, but I didn’t care. I was happy – really happy. Months passed by. I woke up one morning on top of another mountain, in time for the rising of the sun. I stared at it – from the moment it peeped from the clouds until it rose above the clouds and shone brightly. “Wow,” was all I said and I smiled. I suddenly felt empty – the kind of emptiness that doesn’t equate with loneliness. My heart was empty of regrets, pain, and frustrations. To be empty of these things is to be free. I knew, from that moment on, that I was healed. The natural beauty of the mountains, the clouds, the trees, the soil, the cold wind, and the sunrise and sunsets mountaineers always plan to catch made me realize how beautiful life can be. I am just a speck of God’s creation, and I am blessed to be able to witness and appreciate these simple things. I am blessed to have the energy to climb. I am blessed to have resources to travel and to enjoy these things not many people can do. I am blessed to have met amazing and strong people during these climbs. Most of all, I am blessed to have a good heart that was able to forgive the man who broke my heart over and over again even if he didn’t ask for it.
I believe that climbing a mountain is like dealing with a broken heart; you have no choice but to push through the pain until you eventually become numb. You know the pain is there, but you’ll refuse to think about it and get yourself preoccupied with other thoughts or things until you reach the top – the end of it. And when you look back on the trail behind you and ask yourself if the pain was worth it, without hesitation you’ll say “YES.” All the tears and sleepless nights have a purpose. You are now stronger and wiser than before.
To the man who broke my heart, thank you. I would not have found this passion if not for you. I would not have become the best version of myself if you didn’t push me away. I wouldn’t have realized that I need to love myself more and not settle for anyone who would give me less than I deserve. I wouldn’t be inspired to write if I wasn’t hurt.
To the mountains I’ve climbed, thank you for welcoming me with open arms. Thank you for reaching to the depth of my soul and changing my life. Thank you for showing me your beauty that never failed to captivate me. Though I often come home with dead toenails, sun-kissed skin, aching shoulders, and scratches, you did one thing that I will forever be thankful for – you healed my heart and made it stronger.
About the Author:
Abby a Pharmacist by profession; marathoner, mountaineer, traveler, and volunteer by passion. She enjoys trying out new things and challenging herself, both in her career and hobbies. Her ultimate goal is to live a passionate life and be an inspiration to others.