The Himalayas are a holy place.
For a moment, I forgot this. And remembered them only, as big mountains. But slowly crawling along the valleys and ridges of the Earth’s crust had the effect of a pumice stone on my soul. For 15 days I walked. And for 15 days I was scraped. Scraped of the thick residue of petty life details that had settled onto my body so sneakily that I had not realized the extent of the accumulation until I looked at the floor and saw the scaly pile of skin I had shed off.
And then I kept walking. For that is the nature of a pilgrimage: to walk, encounter, and keep walking.
I kept walking. And with layers undressed and pores unclogged, my skin, for the first time in a long time, breathed. And my pores, for the first time in a long time, wept. Big salty tears for all that had passed that I had not mourned. And for all that I love, that I had not appreciated.
And then, one day, many days deep into the range and peaks of mountains tops and thoughts, I kicked a rusted, fallen, horseshoe. I leaned over to pick it up and, at that same second, someone yelled and pointed a finger to the clouds. I looked up and two white wingspans, the length of my own arms, swept silently over my head. As their shadows passed over me, I fell in awe of the grace of those wings: requiring the will of not a single muscle, but hitchhiking a breeze and riding the wave of the wind; cutting through space and air utilizing (only) the power and momentum of the play between elements, earth and air.
Could I do the same?
Could I stop fighting gravity? Stop pulling up and pushing down? Stop submitting to pressure and exerting my strength on the immovable mountains of my life? Could I catch my own wave, with the bend of a wingtip, and ride the will and wind of the universe?
I stood on that cliff and looked out. And suddenly I saw.
I saw a thousand paths. I saw a thousand lives. I saw a thousand dreams. And I saw that they were all mine. My eyes watered and my heart wanted to burst in bliss.
“I’m staying in India,” I whispered to myself.
I turned to my friend walking with me and said louder, “I’m staying in India.”
I ran up the hill to the rest of my companions and shouted, “I’m staying in India!”
They hugged me and said, “Really? You’re not coming back with us? How long will you stay?”
With the confidence of the sun, I smiled and said, “No less than a year or two. With infinite options.”
Two weeks later, with the essential blessing of my loving boss, I have officially been granted my wings for a few revolutions around the sun in this beautiful country called India.
Friends and family, it’s confirmed: I’m here for all of 2008. It was as much a surprise to me as it might be for you. Only my soul knew. And it just took “some big mountains” for the secret to surface. A special “thank you” to Chris Yager for his precious support of my life path and permission and encouragement to pursue it.