“Happiness is anyone and anything at all, that’s loved by you.” – You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Following the Tamang Heritage trail in north central Nepal, I daily encountered sincere happiness. That which came up from my soles, that which intermingled amoung our group of trekkers, and that which emanated from the Tamang people.
The simplicity was something I had wandered so far from, had begun to forget how essential it is.
How could it be the Tamang people, who by so many standards would be considered ‘impoverished,’ seemed more content than some who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a vacation at the ski resorts in Colorado?
Their laughter and singing defies the magazine ads which tell us in order to achieve that, we need more stuff. Beauty in their laugh lines, in the chortle of their songs as they harvested the food their families would eat that winter. Infants strapped snuggly to mother’s back by a simple shawl. Why must we fabricate ‘Movements‘ and ‘Projects‘ to approximate to that way of life?
Might it have something to do with being trapped in the cycle of, as good ‘ol uncle Ramsey put it:
“We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.”
There are merits and set backs to every route. Mine is not to judge, rather, to find my own path, traversing between cultures; knowing my own way better each time for having learned anothers’.
For example, where our guides seemed fine sleeping wrapped in blankets, and Goma slept with the women and children at the various house stays, I was quite attached to my sleeping bag and single bed. There is a balance for each of us.
This trip (and the difficult month leading up to it) tipped a balance in myself which has been teetering since tearing my ACL last year. Since stepping onto the Pacific Crest Trail 4 [four] years ago. Since being remanded to a girl’s home a decade ago.
Years spent striving to identify myself as counter to those who surround me, was a defensive (kids can be really mean) and defiantly held disregard one of our greatest human assets. Communities.
Perhaps, having something to do with an adolescence spent being confused by and alienated from social groups, immersed myself in books such as Lord of the Flies, The Giver, My Side of the Mountain and A Solitary Blue. So perhaps I started along this particular piece of appreciating the strength of friendship later than most, but just in time for myself; to become the woman who can achieve the things I will.
Either way, the point being, I begin to get it now and it is all very new and exciting even if still a bit confusing and daunting. We may not need one another but one is certainly better off for having good folks around.
I am a strong and accomplished hiker. A resilient outdoors-woman. It only took about 3000 trail miles to prove that to myself. Another few thousand to couple that with the thrill and grace of realizing there will always be room for improvement.
Which brings us back to present day.
In the months prior to the hike, exhausted all positive energy and most of my funds supporting those I love, and a few others to boot. It was as I bottomed out that a few exceptional friends stepped in and, leveling no judgment, scooped me up.
At the lowest point, I rallied. Over the course of a night spent under the stars and trees, beside the river, decided I was done “just trying to survive” the situation; this is my life, damnit, mine to fill as I see fit. Took a few, simple steps to address basic needs and from there, leaped for the bottom rung.
My spirits were bolstered by each donation which trickled in for the fundraising aspect of the trek. Being reminded that, even from a low point, good could still flow through me and positively affect others. Thank you to each of you who donated, for you not only supported women and children in Nepal, you also reanimated me.
Rather than resent myself for how low I had gone, instead focused on celebrating that I hadn’t gone as low as times previous. That I reached out for help (sort of), when such became imperative. Confronted the shame which piggy-backed on it.
A few weeks in the United Arab Emirates, in the loving company of my sister, brother-in-law and mother. Reaffirming that relationships are what sustain us. Taking walks on my own two feet every morning. Finding my way into the mindset I needed to truly treasure the time spent in Nepal.
I was there, as Gay reminded right before I left, “to listen.”
In being open, willing to share and learn I gathered new fodder. Content to trek with the group. Lose myself in conversation or just hike along and listen to the wind, the water, the bells as prayer wheels spun, the flap of prayer flags in the wind, the patter of our feet. JD reminded us all to listen to the songs of birds in the trees.
While the desire to wander off and explore on my own was still ever present, it was not so pressing and I never felt the need to do it in secret. On several occasions simply stated my intention, and meandered a bit. Returning to the fold at peace.
The lesson I have drawn is to not shy from surrounding myself with good people. Those who step forward when others step back.
Need a reminder? Watch Hook. When Rufio drew the line in the sand, that one little boy stuck around, taking a moment to be open and practice awe. “Oh, there you are, Peter!”
Without that moment, it would have been a pretty lame movie, just sayin. . .