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To the Mountain & Back

As told to Brocha Miller

It started as a search for meaning, and almost ended on a lonely snow-covered mountain. Shmuel Abramson recalls the hiking adventure that took him to a place he never knew existed, a trail that led to a different world.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

rabbiWe are the seekers, the dreamers.

We are the new generation, the now generation, rejecting the establishment and the middle-class values of our parents and instead searching for meaning and purpose, preferring personal spiritual experiences.

I am Brad Abramson, student of philosophy atWesternNew EnglandCollege, where I explore worlds of thought and deeper, universal understanding.

I will choose my own way, find my individual path. My clothing is colorful and nonconformist, my hair is long, streaming in waves down my back. I join demonstrations against the Vietnam War; I find my heroes in the world of rock and roll music. I experiment with illegal substances to try to expand my consciousness.

I seek spirituality in mysticism, joining the Vedanta Society, where we study the Hindu philosophical traditions of self-realization and eschew rituals in favor of the individual quest for truth.

I learn that holiness can be incarnated in man in every generation, in any leader. Searching for truth, I hang on my wall a small picture of a face familiar to millions of Christians.

This spiritual thinking seems more authentic than any standardized religion — than anything I have felt from the service at my parents’ Jewish temple in suburbanNew Jersey. Experimenting with new ideas, new friends, and new cultures has brought more meaning and excitement to my life than ever before.

Still, I seek more. More context and understanding of our purpose in life. In my quest, I am joined by my friends Ethan and Joe, who has changed his name to Journey.

There is a short break from college for Columbus Day weekend and we decide to go hiking in the White Mountains inNew Hampshire. Ethan is an experienced mountaineer and has hiked this trail before. Joining the group are two other guys from our class and Colin, an exchange student fromIrelandwho is new to our group.

We spend the night in a tent at the bottom of the mountain and then wake up the next morning, eager to head up the trail. The path is marked with small boulders painted red. I peer up the path; it is a serious climb, steep and intense. The sign marking the beginning of the trail announces that it is an advanced path, and warns that only experienced hikers should try it. We strap on our backpacks and march past it, confident in our energy and our youth. Besides, Ethan has hiked this path before. He tells us about a shelter, an emergency lean-to right above the tree line. This is our goal for the day, to make our way up the path and spend the night in the shelter, then turn back and come down.


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