“He had no one around him when he left; just his huge backpack and a heart full of emotions. All his life, he strived to balance the world around him. When I saw him last, he appeared strong but that’s all. His inner conscience was sulking below desperation. Life had made him very desperate indeed”
“And what was the desperation for”
My son was very persistent, just like me. I thought he was too young to understand his desperation. But I had to say it. That man had left a lump in my throat and unknowingly, made me desperate to share that feeling with others.
“His boss asked him, what he could possibly aspire in the next five years. His reply was as confusing as his life. He looked up and said, you wouldn’t see what I would Sir’. His career was just a support system for his miserable way of living. He never spent a single penny on others. We would always wonder of what he could possibly do with all the money he made. Some said he did drugs while some was convinced that he had a fetish for sex workers. I believed he had a larger ambition in pursuit; something that the world was blind to.”
My son looked confused too. I asked him if he wanted to hear more. He gave me a sly smile.
“So one fine day, while having lunch, I asked him if he ever thought of a family or did he make amends with his life to an extent that he never let love make way into his life. He smiled and invited me for dinner that evening. I was surprised and reluctant at the same time. A man who ate an apple for his lunch; what could he possibly feed me?’
So I went to his place in the evening. He had a huge hall and its wall was covered with pictures. It had pictures of him and his employers; a few displayed his grit as a performer. He called it Wall of Mediocrity. I was amazed that he had been such a talented employee and I was sure that he had a lot of achievements under the hood.
I asked him if he ever considered of his family or did he even have one. He had nothing to hide. He spoke about his compromised childhood, his treacherous upbringing and his failed marriage. Then he spoke about his education. He was a doctor in economics. Something that none of us knew. I was astounded and overwhelmed”
“So what was his challenge dad?” My son jumped the gun.
“A couple of years later, we found out that it was last day at work. During his farewell speech, he just smiled and thanked everyone for helping him achieve his goal. Yet again, we were taken by surprise. He clearly had no goals. He joined as a manager and resigned as a manager. His rootless existence did not inspire anyone at work. Next morning, he called up and asked me to drop him to the airport.
I rushed to his home and helped him pack his bag. He had clearly decided to sell off his house and leave. That’s what it seemed then. I did not ask him much. My inquisitiveness would yield no results, I thought. But just before he entered the airport gate, he whispered into my ears. ‘Thank you for being a part of my life and helping me reach here. Just take care of the wall’. That’s all he said and handed over his house keys to me. Just before I could ask him something, he disappeared.
His last statement made no sense to me.
A few weeks later my inquisitiveness took a toll on me mentally and emotionally. I decided to break in to his house. Of course, I had the door keys. I stood near his Wall of Mediocrity and examined it closely. Much to my surprise, it was a timeline. Starting from bottom; it had his first work place, his achievements and his professional life. On the top it had a number ‘8848’.
“What’s 8848?” my son interrogated.
“Yes, that’s all it had. It took me a few more days to decipher what 8848 meant. Thanks to a website, I found out that 8848 is the height of the tallest mountain in the world”
“Woah, so he went to the Everest?” My son deciphered it quickly.
“I used a few contacts to find out if he had actually travelled to The Everest. And yes, he did. But, I was informed that he was untraceable after that. There were a lot of search operations performed to find his small group of five, but there were no inputs.
They were all pronounced dead.
A few years later, I got a postcard. It was of a shadow falling on snow with mist in the background.
He had clearly summited Mount Everest.
On the back, he wrote ‘You see, my aspirations were never too bold. My troubled childhood made me strong, my treacherous upbringing taught me to stay calm and pursue solitude, my failed marriage taught me to find my inner self and my doctorate in economics taught me to be a miser and save enough money to commence the journey of life in its true essence. I have found life but I am afraid, life cannot find me now. And I am grateful to that. You better take care of my Wall’
I used a few more contacts to try and find him but nothing positive happened. As years passed, I forgot about him and moved on in life. I met your mother and got married. One day, she found these keys and asked me about it. Upon narrating his story, she got interested in climbing the mountain. I knew she was out of her mind. It took us five years to save money and build our fortitude.
When we reached the base camp, we were introduced to our tour guide.
It was him.
He looked like a young man; strongly built with a pleasant smile. He appeared as if he had no worries in the world. The mountain had become his home. His rootless existence had become stronger than the mountain he chose to be his companion for life. It all made sense.
I did not question him much. He guided us to the summit but never came to the top. I asked him if he wished to join us.
He sat in the ridge below and smiled ‘This moment is yours my friend. You have now broken your Wall of Mediocrity’
We learnt that he guided thirty groups successfully to the summit. But he summited the mountain only once.
He just led people to the top and smiled at them from the ridge.
“Where is he now Dad?” My Son asked
“I don’t know, but I am sure he still there; somewhere in the mountains, leading groups, smiling at them.
Breaking their Walls of Mediocrity”