The Mountain Without Valleys



“The mountain without valleys…”

I heard the old man tell

And the children were mesmerized

Giggles among the town’s people

Who had heard the story many times before

Of how the old man, when he was younger,

Had gone in search of a mountain

A mountain without valleys


He said he went out

Without map or compass

By the power of a dream

“One night, lying on my cot

A strange dream showed itself to me

Of friends and family and lovers

Searching and grasping, as though blind

Climbing the tallest mountains

You could ever think of

And descending into deep, dark valleys

Where there was only despair

And I went to them and asked

What do you seek?

And I heard always the same answer:

I seek the mountain without valleys…


“I will help you find it!”

He had said

And upon waking, declared to himself

I will use my youth and vigor to find this mountain,

This mountain without valleys


And so, the old man’s story went,

He had said goodbye to his parents

Abandoned the family farm

And gone in search of something

He knew nothing about

In his frightful stupidity

He had wandered here and there

Questioning strangers

About a concept which made

No sense at all


I marvelled that my patience

Had carried me this far

But I had to interrupt–

“Why tell this same story, old man?

Would you infuse these children

With your insanity?”

He smiled at me, and said

“The story is not for them,

It is for you!

Whatever upsets us most

Holds the key

To our destiny”


As I stormed away, the rest of his story

Began to echo in my head,

Planted there through the many repetitions

I had believed harmless


I wandered for two years

Surviving by the kindness of strangers

Until one night I passed by a home

Where the crickets seemed quieter

The wind, a bit more gentle

And where the light seemed to linger

As though sad to leave

I knocked on the door

And found myself face to face

With an old married couple

Who smiled so sincerely

That I felt their grand-child, 

Returning home after a long journey


They fed me and took me in

Bathed me, clothed me,

And offered me a place to stay

In exchange for some help with the garden

I declined, however,

Explaining that I was on a quest

To find a mountain without valleys


The old couple smiled to each other

As though sharing a secret, or an inside joke

And the old man took me aside

“When I was young,

As you are now

I too sought the mountain without valleys

And found it!

And that is where I met my wife

And we have lived out our days

In love and happiness

Waiting for a young man like you

To pass our knowledge to.”

Such excitement as I have never known

Gripped my heart

Hearing and seeing my dreams confirmed

In this saintly old man

“What is the path, please,

I will do anything to know!”


“To reach the mountain without valleys,”

He explained to me,

“You must walk the pathless path

Every step that is taken to reach it

Will take you back the way you came

You must allow your steps to be the path

And walk without really walking

As you walk, do not aim for the mountains

Or the valleys, rather,

Let the peaks and valleys come to you

Meet them without holding them

And, when the great mountain feels you are ready

And have shown your determination

It will come to you

And you will see what you have dreamed of

The mountain without valleys”


My search was at an end,

Because I knew the way

And so I stayed with the old couple

Listening to their stories, 

Sharing their jokes,

And tending to their garden

A day came when something changed

I could hear the birds calling me away

And as I came down the stairs

The old couple waited there

To send me on my way


I returned home, understanding,

The way forward was the way back

And I had given up my search

Because the mountain was coming to me

And so it was that, just before reaching home,

I met the mountain without valleys

And understood why all my friends

Had been searching for it

It was truly a marvel to behold


And so, his story ends

As inanely as it began

Leaving some laughing,

Some shaking their heads

Others totally confused

But they can walk away

And somehow I cannot

The story haunts me

It taunts me

Because I see myself climbing mountains

And feel myself seeking for something

But the idea of a mountain without valleys

Is pure stupidity!

And yet, it may just be the only thing

That will truly satisfy




4 thoughts on “The Mountain Without Valleys”

  1. Aaah … what a beautiful story. I love it, especially the bit about the mountains and valleys coming to you, and being each step you walk. And that wonderful dramatic serene photo of Kailas – truly a mountain without a valley! How easy it looks to just climb up its strange brown slopes to Siva’s snows.

  2. I enjoyed your beautiful poem just because you expounded another creative interpretation of Renee Descartes’ belief in the existence of a “Mountain without valleys.”

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