Tuesday, March 21, 2017: Airport reflections
To start a trek is to restart a life. I’m forced to go back to the basics, to fit all that I have into a single backpack. I experience the adrenaline of a fresh start running deep in my blood, and I realize quickly, the diamond-way, the impermanence of life. I suddenly find the energy to tie loose ends of my life, to speak with loved people without delay, to not let any table left unturned.
It has been a recurrent experience for me that on airport days, I am the most productive. I write the most to people I haven’t spoken to in a while. I finish what I had only started but never completed. There is a focus, a sense of urgency that won’t leave me feeling behind or paralyzed.
Across spiritual traditions around the world, reflections on the finiteness of life and on death are central to spiritual progression. Tibetan Buddhists, for example, are famous for their detailed visualization practices on decay and death. To start an unknown trekking journey is, for me, to get closer to dangers of life and death, but without having to plan, hopefully, for the coffin and epitaph.
Where I grew up there is only flat terrain, in the lowlands of the Amazon. There were jungle and rivers for me to see, but never the peaks of mountains around me. Without seeing lofty mountain peaks, I had been like a child who had never seen the sea. Now, at Kathmandu’s airport, within the reaches of my vista, mountains are present. I’m writing from the heart of the Nepalese Himalayas.
I look at these mountains from a distance and feel as a child bewildering the sea for the first time. Vastness and magnificence. Bewilderment and awe. How could structures of such size grow so tall on such a fragile earth. Mountains are the closest links we have to the skies and heavens.
In Nepal, I set myself up to walk, to explore deep valleys and snow-capped peaks with my eyes and feet, to combine the high energy of a climb with the introspection of a meditative life. To mindfully design for myself the journey ahead, step by step. To visualize my own life’s progression following a sense of purpose and will. In a few hours, I, and two amazing brothers of spirit, after two days of cloudy skies and cancelled flights, will be finally flying to Lukla, a small town the base of the Everest Basecamp trek, where we’ll start walking towards high-altitudes and the sky.