It is Saturday night in Kathmandu. Water drops of an early-monsoon rain flow down the stone-paved streets of the Thamel district of the city, and I sit in a candlelit restaurant having had Nepalese-Tibetan vegetable soup for dinner. The food, the language, the culture, the religion, the people of this nation strike me as beautiful mix of all that I have seen from Indians and Tibetans I met in India. By contrast to India, Nepal is a small and eclectic nation. Its people have a resilient and strong smile, and always humbly hand you change with their two hands. Here in this country, the lofty peaks of the Himalayas are closer to sight than I have ever seen in life, guarded by the beautiful Buddha eyes. With spring coming, the flowers around the Kathmandu valley are blooming. Though I haven’t caught sight of them yet, very soon I will, because Sunday morning, Nepalese time, I fly from Kathmandu to Lukla, onto a fourteen-day journey to the basecamp of a big mountain. Upwards, with two good friends and a Nepalese guide, we head, onto the basecamp of Mt. Everest.
This is not an unprecedented journey in history. Every year, over thirty-five thousand people approach the foot of the tallest mountain on Earth. And I know this isn’t the hardest trek in the world. When I was in the US before I left to Asia, I hiked mountains in New Hampshire along the Appalachian Trail for a few days. There I met amazing souls, some as young as nineteen and twenty years old, trekking for months, with gas and meals on a single bag: their whole lives condensed into a backpack. At the Mt. Everest Basecamp Trek, my life will depend on much more, thankfully: there are more or less paved ways, and Sherpa villages and Buddhist monasteries along the way. Every night, there will be teahouses where I will stay, with warm and hearty meals served for dinner. It is the high altitudes and way-below-freezing temperatures that challenge and make us take about 14 days for the journey. Cold, starry nights and snow-capped views awaits us with open arms.
I have heard that mountains hold a secret, and that they whisper their wisdom to those ready to hear. The presence is the peak of mindfulness experience. Grateful for all the inner-life treks in Thailand and India, I enter this one open and reflective, following the movement of not only my breath, but also my feet. While resting on the foot of the planet’s tallest mountain, I will strive to connect even more deeply to life down here. From there I will remember the everflowing basecamp of our interconnection, the high passes of our lives’ synchronicities, the quirky winds and clouds of our human ways of living.
We’ll be in touch, maybe when I’m up there if some remote internet connection is possible, but if not, then when I’m back. Thank you for cheering for me.