Philosophy, etymologically, means love of wisdom, yes just that! Of course, that's not what people think of when they hear the word philosophy. Most people shrug off any mention of the word. When I used to read philosophical books in my college days, most guys and girls used to look at me, like one looks at an alien―as if there was something wrong with me. Why has the science of life, or better, and art of living life gotten such a horrible reputation? Has it got something to do with the way the philosophically inclined people are, or come across as?
When I think of those who are into philosophy, whatever that means, there are two types of people that come to my mind―people who love philosophy, and people who live philosophy. Not that these two are mutually exclusive, at least in principle, but somehow in reality, it seems like that. To elaborate a little, the first type loves reading philosophy, but just for the sake of it. They think of philosophy as some sort of exercise for the mind, some conundrum―solving which is a reward in itself. This pursuit sometimes turns into a habit, and philosophy gets divorced from life, ironically. The second type of people, however, think of philosophy as another tool to live life effectively.
I was introduced to philosophy by someone of the first type―my first idol. I will refer to him as my first teacher. He was very good at playing the game of philosophy―in solving conundrums, in building delicate structures of logic, in comprehending complex theories. He taught me to love philosophy. But he couldn't teach me to live philosophy, to integrate it with my life, and not to regard it as an end in itself. Years after coming out of that idol/influence phase, now I believe he himself did not know it. I have also learned that no one can teach you to live philosophy. That's for you to figure out, each on his own.
Throughout our interactions about philosophy, my teacher used to use the mountain metaphor for his philosophical progress. As we climb a mountain, our visions broaden; we see many things, many routes, whose existence we were unaware of; we see many connections that we could not have possibly made before. As we climb higher, we want to get still higher. There are always other mountains, more difficult, more challenging. It definitely is an interesting metaphor. It explains the joys of learning philosophy. But, my teacher was obsessed with another side of it. As we reach higher, there are less and less people who have reached there. There are very few people who you can communicate with, and eventually you're all alone. Also, the risks of falling increase as one climbs higher and higher. There is less and less than you can draw from the experiences of others.