Seven days of life on the trail, packed with many moments of solitude and reflection have lent some educational perceptions and exciting revelations.
. The Tangible .
The week-long plunge into the world of the Nepalese mountain people has been earth shattering. Although this short immersion has only given me a taste of their life, I can fully see the physical struggle that these resilient people endure on a daily basis! The old roads between the communities of terraced farming villages are now the trekking trails for foreigners, but are still in use as generations of these people use them to this day.
While there are enough lodges and teahouses to support the tourist industry, you usually find yourself passing locals going about their daily routine in the difficult terrain. Aside from the farmers, playful infants and occasional hermitages, you also find children running up and down flights of stairs to school for hours each way! You will encounter young girls and old women laboring up steep stairs with oversized bundles strapped to their backs. There is also an abundance of porters carting everything from five backpacks at a time, kerosene tanks and occasionally large crates stuffed with dozens of live chickens. At one point I even passed a strange man carrying a sole cardboard box dangling from a string, stuffed tightly with a rather large hen!
Aside from these insights into this culture’s drastically different lifestyle, the long days of solitude on the trail have left the mind free to ponder all aspects of life and the metaphors found within the trek itself.
. Metaphors .
This trek has been the classic journey in its essence. My greater expedition has been a long drawn out road, but I see the same elements of the whole within this smaller excursion. The metaphors for life can be found everywhere on the trail, and have only helped to inspire by implication!
The need to focus on each step in order to proceed on the trail and in life; although you can stop to admire the views, and ponder future and past steps, if the focus isn’t on the current step, the foot may fall somewhere unexpected and lead to peril. Life’s cycle of ups and downs is metaphorically shown in the ascent and descent of the mountain trails. Every effort yields a reward equal or greater to its hardships; at the end of this journey I am stronger, clearer of mind and able to look upon the journey and goal with a fresh perspective.
This short struggle in the greater war has come at a critical time in my journey. The clarity I have obtained here is a great defense from the difficulties of travel and culture shock that has laid siege to my fortitude over these last months. The lessons learned in the abstract illustrations found on the trail, I now walk away with a greater understanding, feeling my new abilities and resilience of body and mind.
. Reflection .
More time away from a culture, combined with an appropriate medium for deep thought, has allowed proper reflection on the journey so far. The separation has been critical to gain an unbiased perspective, but the free time walking alone on the mountain trails has provided the right situation to concentrate, pull together my memories and process the last nine months of stimulation.
My difficulties have been rooted in my deeper feelings of loss and love for everywhere I’ve been. My fondness for Japan has always been apparent, but it is now stronger and I am more anxious to return. My taste buds have been craving the South Korean food and casual life I found there.
Even China, the great mysterious contradiction that has confused me in the recent past has now settled into a clearer impression. Before I found the first signs of poverty, filth and lack of certain civilities a complete turn-off, but it has become clear that these are part of the balance that makes Chinese cultural equation so appealing. All of the great experiences and unforgettable memories could never have existed without China simply being itself.
While I may have complained at the time, it is only because of the amazing rollercoaster of contrast that the country hurls you through at break-neck speed. Although it was trying at times, I deeply miss the pure magic and moments of bliss that I found there.
I only wish that I had the clarity of separation and distinction so I would have been less jaded by my past experiences. I was in no position to judge based on my pre-conceived notions about how things should be or how they are elsewhere. At least there is another life lesson to be found in how everything is unique. Something’s flaws are merely attributes that contribute to the whole of its being.
. Comfort and Perspective .
The hardships of this trek and lack of familiarities with life on the trail has helped to demonstrate the representation of life’s greater meanings. Now I am not ashamed to admit that I enjoy the comforts of life and understand that I can never fully separate myself from the past.
Return to the familiar after unusual situations will give the alternate perspective that is needed to fully understand the unfamiliar. Total immersion is best for as long as possible, but to see the whole picture return to your original state of being is essential. I still find that is the most difficult part; learning to separate from the things loved in life when it is time to seek and obtain this clarity.
For how long I will travel is still uncertain. As long as I am still seeing drastically different ways that people in this world live their lives while I continue to experience life at it’s fullest, I will continue to learn more and discover these truths that can only help navigate the longer road of life. Alas, someday the stone will stop rolling; content in its more rounded, polished form and ready to collect all of the moss that hasn’t already decorated its north face.
Tags: - Photography, - Reflection, Annapurna, Asia, Himalaya, Nepal, Nepal: ABC Trek, Trek