While many might assume that the saying ‘look deeper into nature and you’ll understand everything better’ is a myth, Vasenta Selvanayagam reveals how she found this saying to be rather true through her hiking adventures.
Anyone who knows me would be able to vouch that I’m a person who is not interested in any physical activity – at all. But that was in the past. In the last two years, everyone I’ve known including my best friends have been rather amazed of the change that I’ve made and how passionate I’ve become in hiking.
To be honest, boredom was what started it all. Some time back in 2016 during one of the holidays, I decided to Google interesting activities in the Klang Valley that I could maybe try out, and stumbled upon a website that mentioned hiking. Despite knowing that my stamina level was at 0 and that I’ve been given stern warnings from doctors that I shouldn’t attempt any outdoor activities because
of my Epilepsy, I decided to give it a try.
THE FIRST MOVE
My first hike with a friend was up Bukit Saga that’s located in Cheras, which was about 690 metres high. To be honest, it was indeed a nightmare as it took me five hours to get up and seven hours to get down (when on average, most articles said that you’d be able to finish the trail in five hours max). To add to the misery, it started to rain. I fell down and came home with multiple bruises on my body! Of course, I ended up resting in bed for the next three days. But despite all that tiredness, there was a sense of relief in me as I made it to the peak instead of giving up halfway. For the next few days, I gave it some thought and asked myself if I’d attempt to do it again. To be honest, the only thing that was holding me back was the physical pain but apart from that, it was really a beautiful experience. The view from the peak of that mountain was really stunning and what I enjoyed most was the hike up. Of course, I was huffing and puffing but with every new level I managed to push myself to climb, there was a reward. Not to mention, along the way, the smell of the fresh greens, the extremely fresh air and the sound of the birds in the jungle was definitely a relaxing experience, something I’ve been longing to have ever since I started my full-time job. Having thought about the pros and cons, I decided to go ahead and join my colleagues on their weekly hiking adventures. Today, I’m proud to say that some of the best mountains I’ve hiked up so far are Gunung Nuang in Selangor, Gunung Angsi in Negeri Sembilan, Mount Kinabalu in Kota Kinabalu and Mount Batur in Bali. In all of this, what I value the most from picking up this activity are the life lessons it has taught me in these two years, which I’ve been able to apply in my daily life as well.
LEARN TO STOP!
One of my most unforgettable experiences would be attempting to climb Mount Nuang. The drive to push myself forward to get to the peak was so strong to the extent that I almost fainted on the way down. It was during this time that I learnt how important it is for us to say ‘enough’, stop whatever we’re doing and just listen to what our body is trying to tell us. Ever since that incident, I’ve been more alert, and this has also translated to work, where I’ve learnt to say enough for today, I can continue the rest tomorrow.
EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT
On every trail, there’ll be hikers who are faster than you, slower than you or even those who go with a completely different intention altogether. It was after seeing it that I accepted the fact that everyone is different. Being an Epileptic patient, there were many things that I was told I couldn’t do, especially since I was on a high dose of medication from the ages of 12 to 15. I stopped taking it at 16 because I wanted to experiment with other conventional ways of dealing with this sickness instead of just relying on the tablets that I was taking. Recently, I discovered the Epilepsy Foundation of America and had a chance to chat with Elaine Kiriakopoulos, the doctor on board, to answer any questions with regards to Epilepsy, and found out that exercise was in fact encouraged among patients with Epilepsy as it increases a person’s ability to manage stress better, aid relaxation and build muscle strength. It can also help in decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression. I’m certainly not excluded from this and I’m glad that I decided to take the initiative to come out of my comfort zone and give hiking a try despite being told since young that it was something I should never attempt.
LIFE IS ABOUT HELPING ONE ANOTHER
Being in a fast-paced, competitive industry, it’s almost impossible to think about the needs of others before yours. But this is what made me fall in love with this activity even more. On all my adventures, everyone gives one another a helping hand whenever there’s someone in need. They advise you and will even offer you assistance when there’s a need – and if you ask. At the end of the day, everyone has got one mission, which is to have a fun-filled day and to reach the peak of the mountain safely. With that in mind, there’s no competition among us and everyone achieves their common goal together. Likewise, outside the jungle, I’ve learnt to be less selfish and to offer assistance when needed instead of just thinking about about myself all the time.
*This is based on a personal experience, and you are encouraged to talk to your doctor first if you’re also suffering from Epilepsy.