Wednesday, December 30, 2009
At some point (often very quickly), however, taking this advice while traveling becomes impractical. Take landing in a new foreign city like Kathmandu, for example. You leave the airport, get in a taxi and ask them to take you somewhere. You have NO idea where you are, where you're going or if you've even been understood because you don't speak the cab driver's language. The guy could drive in circles for hours and you wouldn't be able to tell because there are no street signs (you couldn't read them if they did exist), no distinct landmarks, no traffic rules and you can't really communicate with him anyway. Granted, you are paying this guy to bring you somewhere so he has some motivation to help you, but you are also putting a level of trust in the fact that he will bring you where you ask despite the fact that he knows you have no clue....
Further on down the road in traveling, the opportunity to put your trust in others comes and goes and to varying extremes. I've found that how I choose to respond to these opportunities and what I use to guide these decisions can make or break my trip. If you've read any entries before this one you know that I rely on my gut, my instinct, the palpable feeling that arises in my belly - to guide such decisions. For me, trusting others all depends on trusting myself.
As I get ready to get on a plane back to the states in just about 36 hours (yikes!), it hit me that one of the greatest things i've learned is that there ARE good people in this world! I knew that, of course, because I have a lot of them in my life - my friends and my family are exceptional - but at times I get down on humanity as a whole and start to doubt if people are generally, by their nature, good. (It's tough to stay enamored with the human race when you look around the world and see such mindless and rampant violence, oppression and harm that we inflict on people and our planet.) What I have been astonished by these last few months is the kindness of strangers who had no motivation for their kindness except just this: to be kind.
The examples from the past few months are endless, but here's a recent one. A few days ago I traveled to a town on the coast of eastern Bali and stayed at a bungalow that had been recommended by a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend I met in Bali (friend 4 times removed :-)) ...The afternoon I arrived I was sitting on the patio of the place watching the sun set over the ocean and eating a mango (idyllic, i know!) when a Balinese couple with a baby came up and asked if I was Chris...Ends up that my friend 4 times removed (who I had met the day before, mind you) had called these friends (= my friend 5 times removed) and asked that they drop in on me and see how I was. I was floored... but it doesn't stop there. The next day (which happened to be Christmas - not much of an event in this Hindu country) they came to get me and the husband and his 9 year old son took me trekking through gorgeous rice fields, pristine forest and a few small villages. We hiked for a few hours from where we got dropped off and ended up back in their village - one of the last truly traditional villages in Bali - where my new friends work as basket weavers and artists. They fed me an amazing homemade lunch despite clearly not having that much themselves and insisted that I take fruit and food with me when i left. They were generous with their time, their resources and their love. Although our communication via words was somewhat limited, I could truly feel that this was not an inconvenience or an act of obligation...it seemed they just couldn't imagine acting any other way and were happy to share with a complete stranger. Although it's just coincidence that this happened on Christmas, it sure seems like a real manifestation of the Christmas spirit.
This day is certainly one of the highlights of an incredible trip and is just one example of the abundance which I've encountered over the past few months. People, most who have less than I do (less in terms of material things only - most of them are wealthy beyond belief in love, faith, family and spirit), have been extremely generous with their time, their talents, kind words, a helping hand, smiles, love, hugs and so much more...Even just writing about this has made me so overwhelmed with gratitude and has reinstilled in me a belief in the generosity and overall goodness of the human spirit...just another lesson that traveling and being open has taught me...
One last thing - for my dad and all you other naysayers - I want to reassure you, I'm not naive and I realize there are still bad people in this world - lots of them. My new-found belief in human beings isn't blinding and it doesn't mean I'm going to run into the middle of New York City at 3 am with a wad of cash and expect that something bad won't happen. What it does mean is that at times (I know when it's right if I really listen) I have to open up and take a leap of faith if I'm going to receive the incredible gifts the universe has waiting for me...otherwise I risk missing out on beautiful interactions and experiences that make traveling and everyday life truly fantastic.
love, light and faith
Friday, December 18, 2009
I didn’t realize the impact that this decision would have. It ends up that in this stillness, in this seeming cessation of forward movement, I have moved forward on my path by leaps and bounds…when I least expected it. Apparently, it was more important that I explore some more internal terrain than the jungles and mountains of northern Thailand.
I spent this time going through a yoga intensive - lectures, practice, meditations, more practice, more lectures and it has been incredible. I have never heard yoga explained in this manner and it's been really interesting, eye-opening and challenging mentally and emotionally. I did my best to approach this experience with a beginner's mind - surrendering all I thought I knew so I could be open to this new way of thinking and practicing and being...What I've learned about myself would not have been possible without this surrender, but it also required a good deal of effort, extra work and courage to open up – all of this required some serious strength…Strength through surrender and surrender through strength…
But, I digress - Getting back to movement and stillness. A good deal of my past few weeks have been spent in stillness – stillness holding a pose for what sometimes seems like an eternity, sitting in meditation at a waterfall, sitting in meditation on the beach, sitting in meditation in the classroom (you get it - lots of stillness). The internal movement that this kind of stillness encourages is overwhelming and truly awe-some. I don’t mean the kind of stillness we find when we sit in front of a TV all day or even when we read a book, but the kind of stillness you find when you sit with yourself – facing your internal being, watching your heart and mind and just letting it all come and go on its own. It’s intense, it’s scary and it’s beauty beyond words….movement through stillness. But, in yoga and in life there are also those sublime moments when your monkey mind stops going, when you are in the moment completely, when you are here, right now….during a yoga flow, on a long run, in the midst of a sweet kiss, walking through the ocean. You lose yourself in the movement and as a result you find yourself. It’s not the same as getting caught up in the moment, but it is being completely mindful IN the moment without even noticing…stillness through movement.
Don’t get me wrong. Not every moment of the last few weeks has been this intense. I’ve had my share of frolicking on the beach and in the ocean, collecting shells, getting Oceanside massages, exploring waterfalls, taking long hilly bike rides, cruising around on the back of a motor bike enjoying the wind on my face, dancing in the dumping rain, laughing, crying and eating lots of good food. I’ve seen some of the most amazing sunsets and sunrises of my life and have enjoyed my roommates – a few geckos, a HUGE lizard and the occasional frog or bird who gets in through an open window.
An integral part of the last few weeks have been the people I’ve met here – each seeking something different, but each kind, open, honest and loving. One in particular has touched my heart and mind and spirit in a way I haven't experienced that often in this life (much gratitude,MN). But, it seems it’s time for me to take what I’ve learned here and move forward, literally and figuratively, with both strength and surrender for whatever lies ahead... so with that, I’m Bali-bound….
love, light and a happy solstice
Monday, November 30, 2009
To illustrate this point, check it: right now i sit next to a beautiful river - limestone cliffs of white, pink and orange reach up for the sky. i am engulfed in the lushest, greenest mass of jungle that you can imagine with trees that are 1 million years old (wish they could talk). monkeys swing from the branches above, macaques swarm the cliffs and all sorts of insects sing their songs. it's hot and humid and i sweat just sitting here, but with my feet in the crisp water and a breeze that comes just often enough - i manage to stay cool enough.
For the last 2 months I was lucky enough to have 2 amazing and important folks to me spend some time adventuring with me. Jody and i hung in the everest region of the himalaya for 3ish weeks and Q and i tramped around annapurna, angkor wat & a bit of bangkok for 5ish weeks (thanks to both of you - it was truly an honor to have time with 2 stellar people).
As of today, however, i am on my own and i find myself in khao sok national park in southern thailand. despite arriving just a few hours ago from bangkok via an overnight 17 hour bus adventure (w/little to no sleep as is expected), i'm stoked and happy to be back in nature. plans to explore lost waterfalls, a huge lakes with secret caves and amazing cliffs and to try my hand at thai cooking (the owner of the bungalow i am staying at said she'll teach me) are all in the works....
at some point maybe i'll catch up on writing about angkor wat and bangkok experiences (what a weird, interesting place), but at the moment riverside jungle yoga calls more loudly than this computer...
love and light and gratitude for having each of you in my life...
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
love, light and simplicity.....
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The thing about 'Nepali Flat' is that on some days after all of this uphill and downhill you actually end up at the same elevation as you started at (hence the reason they can call it "flat")...One some days you find yourself on higher ground and you have actually gained a little elevation....Either way, you've always shed some sacred sweat, gained a little distance, been humbled and have at least learned something new.
I've actually come to love Nepali Flat - both the term and the terrain - for a number of reasons. I love walking the terrain because it sure beats walking downhill (i'm not a big fan of the downhill). And, I love the term because of how many metaphors we can draw from it.... Many of us have emotional, physical, mental and spiritual journeys - spanning a day, week, month or year that can be described as 'Nepali Flat'......These journeys challenge us and for many of us this is exactly why we seek them - because we grow in quantum leaps when we are pushed/push ourselves.
I particularly like the idea of 'Nepali flat' because it so accurately represents many of our relationships and much of the inner terrain I am exploring and that many of us walk through each day....On some days these explorations are strenuous, require a lot of up and down and we may end up at what appears to be a similar height despite our struggles...But some days (and these are the days we remember), we cruise through the Nepali flat, enjoying each step of the journey even though it may be difficult or painful. At the end of the day, we find that not only have we've gained a little elevation, but we've also gained a ton of perspective - perspective we could not have gained had the path been truly 'flat."
So - as I get ready for the next part of this adventure to start tomorrow - another trek - this time in the Annapurna Range - I am excited to explore more 'Nepali Flat', as well as a ton of 'gradual' up and even some serious steeps....
Love and light and courage for the varied terrain.....
Saturday, October 24, 2009
This amazing lady (with a little help from my dad and sisters and brothers, too) made me who I am, instilled in me the very sense of independence and bravery that has led me to be where I am right now (both literally and figuratively) and for this she is one of my heroes. My ma is a one-of-a-kind woman: she's tough, she's courageous, she's sweet and brilliant, beautiful and she is grace under pressure....plus, she can feed a crowd like no one else i know.
I know that the path I've chosen has caused my mom more worry than is probably fair, yet through it all she has always shown me love.She's reveled in my successes, laughed with me when spirits were high, she's picked me up from my failures, she's kicked me in the pants when i've needed it and she's been a shoulder to cry on during heartbreaks....
So, MA - here's a Himalayan Happy Birthday and here's to many more years of celebrating - Hope this trip around the sun is your best yet....Maybe next year we can celebrate in the same time zone!
Love and light and happiness to my Ma and to y'all...Namaste.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
The Himalaya astound me! I am humbled with each step and each meter gained.
Rising with immense power as they reach to the heavens.
Weathering each storm with unwavering grace and beauty.
They shine with unending and unmatched light and hope.
Effortlessly exuding strength and beauty.
Bringing mindful awareness to each moment.
Humbly demanding respect while giving love and compassion so easily and freely.
Illuminating the answers that already lie within each of us.
It is impossible to be anywhere but here Now.
Love and light and Himalayan humility.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Unfortunately, my backpack did not travel so smoothly and somehow it missed one of its flights! Perhaps the draw of a night in Bangkok was just too much for it? Luckily, it will be arriving tomorrow and I was prepared for this so have enough stuff with me for a few days.....No worries there. Met up with easily with, Jody, my wonderful traveling companion for the first part of this adventure at the Kat airport and are settled into our hostel - excited to begin our trek to Everest Base Camp on Wednesday....
The highlight of the day was flying into Kathmandu and seeing.........the magnificent, amazing, towering, powerful, compassionate, kind and awe-inspiring (enough words for ya?) Himalaya.....Everest towering above the clouds was a sight that brought tears of joy. The tears that can only come from realizing a dream and following your bliss.......try it, you'll see what i mean.
Love, light and a slower than molasses internet connection :-)
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
One day a man was walking along a beach. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Off in the distance he could see a woman going back and forth between the surf's edge and and the beach. Back and forth this woman went. As the man approached he could see that there were hundreds of starfish stranded on the sand as the result of the natural action of the tide.
The man was struck by the the apparent futility of the task. There were far too many starfish. Many of them were sure to perish. As he approached, the woman continued the task of picking up starfish one by one and throwing them into the surf.
The man said, "You must be crazy. There are thousands of miles of beach covered with starfish. You can't possibly make a difference." The woman looked at the man. He then stooped down and pick up one more starfish and threw it back into the ocean. He turned back to the man and said, "It sure made a difference to that one!"
This tale has stuck with me my entire life and has driven much of what I do and how I approach my time on this earth.
As I do this I intend to be especially mindful of the ripples that I create and will make sure they are positive and true. I am by no means looking to save the world by taking this trip and I have no grandiose beliefs about the impact of my time on this earth. I am, however, conscious that what I do and think and the energy I cultivate within me does matter, does make a difference – even if to just one person, starfish or place. Thanks for joining me on this journey.