rodnei mountains pietrosu peak wild flowers

To wander and to live

Some of the things that bring me a great deal of joy in this life are reading, writing and being close to nature. Either I’m immersing in a good book, or putting ideas to paper (yes, paper first) and writing, or being outdoors in nature, there’s this wandering spirit that awakens inside of me and it’s when I feel most alive. In this piece of writing that I’m about to share with you here, reminiscences from my recent travels in the mountains shyly intertwine with a few ideas found in my two favorite books, in quite a beautiful and serendipitous way.

A new and different sun

View over Borsa, Maramures County
View over Borsa, Maramures County [photo from personal library]

Ever since I returned from my getaway around the country with two of my closest friends – and much longer before this -, I’ve been diving full-heartedly into the idea of wandering, of exploring the outdoors, being one with nature, and into the magical experience it all provides to our natively adventurous soul.

Probably, that was because travelling to all these foreign places I yearned to discover this year are now so hard to go to, due to… well, you know, #2020.

However, this trip we took in the Rodnei Mountains (northern part of Romanian Carpathians), here in my homeland, has been nothing short of wonder. I’ve talked a bit about the experience also in the article introducing September’s LAUREL Monthly Soundlust – Wander. Honestly, I’ve been so completely amazed by the natural beauty in these mountain landscapes, which are so close to where I live, that I quietly laughed at my so-called sadness of not making it to whatever place overseas.

Rodnei Mountains, Pietrosu Peak
Rodnei Mountains, Pietrosu Peak – view over Iezer Lake [photo from personal library]

And this is where this quote from Jon Krakauer’s book, “Into the wild, slides in so well, to show just how wonderful a living in the present can be, how a little taste for adventure changes the whole view towards the future:

So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.

― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

Beautifully said, right? Although I couldn’t do a whole Christopher McCandless move myself (going to such extreme measures as to completely abandon planning important things and building for the future), I do reckon and embrace the humble spirit behind his thinking.

What the mountains give us

As I’m no mountain guide to offer you information on trails or other practical advice on mountaineering, I’m gonna go with what I know better – telling stories about what I experienced while climbing a mountain.

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All this wandering is the perfect metaphor for living in truth and in love, while driven by curiosity and thirst for seeking higher grounds (both literally and figuratively). It sure makes you want to live up to the inspiration that nature so kindly offers us all and experience the world with full senses.

While I was walking the trail on the mountain, cascades of thoughts and ideas were falling through my finally relaxed mind, looking for answers to various issues and asking new questions. Like a child in a new place, wondering what’s this and that.

Rodnei Mountains, Pietrosu Peak
Rodnei Mountains, Pietrosu Peak [photo from personal library] [courtesy to Gabi for capturing this]

Going up a mountain with alike friends is wonderful and fun, and I’m grateful for sharing this journey with my “blooming tribe”, as we like to call each other. Still, the experience is also a solitary one, where you’re walking with your thoughts, your emotions, your fears and your goals.

You’re the only one who makes the legs keep moving, you’re the one who encourages your breath to follow a good and steady rhythm, you’re the one who gets to feel every surrounding bit of your existence in that grandeur of the moment.

You’re the one who makes your story.

Motion pictures in my mind

I remember the moments of eeriness found in the weightless clouds, waltzing from ridge to ridge in a motion so slow and yet so vivid, I could feel them collapsing over my eyelids and my shoulders.

Rodnei Mountains, Pietrosu Peak
Rodnei Mountains, Pietrosu Peak [photo from personal library]

I remember the rocks crumbling under my feet, making me aware of every step I took.

I remember how I would embrace the aliveness in my soul and the idea of experiencing that beaten path in my own way.

I remember how I’d imagine walking with my mom through those places of so much bloom and color, with flowers I don’t know the name of, both soundly gawking at the entire floral carpet that was decorating the alpine area.

mountain peony in Rodnei Mountains
The mountain peony (Rhododendron kotschyi) is a protected flora species in Romania. @ Rodnei Mountains [photo from personal library]

I remember the songs of birds populating the scene up above, kind of like a celebration for the evergreen trees rising strong and tall around us.

I remember the first touch of spring water on my face and the gulping sound of thirst when drinking it from my palms.

I remember the feeling of deep connection to the wilderness beyond the trail, changing my fear of the unknown for a silent understanding between my human soul and the unseen face of the wild.

I also remember all the questions that stumbled over in my mind whenever I’d find myself walking in silence, alone, on the trail (well, not literally alone, ‘cause my friends were there, close-by, but you get the point). Questions of the past, questions for the future, when all I had were answers from the present. And.that.was.okay.

I remember how I’d imagine myself writing about all the wondrous things I was seeing and that childlike reaction of impatience for not being able to write it down in that precise moment, fearing the words and the memories would fade away.

I knew that I had been already creating my story, with every trace my boots left on the trail, with every loud awe I had echoed into the frequencies of the mountain, with every “hello” and “thank you” I had given to the trees, the sun, the birds, the flowers, myself.

With this new experience in my pocket, I’m continuing my learning of not taking anything for granted. Not my time, not the world, not nature, not the people around me, not myself. Everything rolls its roll, sometimes without previous notice, sometimes in ways we only learn as they happen. To keep wandering, both in and out, to keep searching for a greater meaning in the things that, even in the slightest, move our core. This is living.

Finally, as inspiration keeps coming to me, I will leave here this quote from Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ majestic book, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, my most loved book so far:

I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories… water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés: Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

Oh, how I bloomed.

And oh, how I wish you would let yourself bloom too.


Note: If you don’t have the two books mentioned above in your personal library, I’m gonna leave these links here from the two websites I usually buy books from:

Women who run with the wolves, by C. P. Estes
books-express.ro (shipping only in Romania, via courier services)
bookdepository.com (free worldwide shipping via post office)

Into the wild, by J. Krakauer
books-express.ro (shipping only in Romania, via courier services)
bookdepository.com (free worldwide shipping via post office)

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