(Caution: Avoid this blog if you like purposeful writing…Dedicated to Jerry Garcia AKA The Space Pilot)
The Days Between
“Summer flies and August dies, and the world grows dark and mean”
The silver curtain of clouds washes over the mountains daily with intermittent rain. I find myself adrift. I focus on my tasks of planning lessons, teaching, and chores. Wondering about this dream of mine? On the one hand Bhutan is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. But I don’t feel complete. I have not assimilated well. In part to my own self imposed isolation. All the teachers are married and I find myself with few friends. I know I could make a better effort but my nature is reclusive. Nature is my only company and on a good day I have my students. I am not above missing family, friends, festivals, and food. At times I get lost in my own head which is as vast as the valley below. The finest ever seen, with its silver river snaking around the curves of the mountains that interlope and unfold endlessly. I wander at night watching the lights twinkle in India like distant galaxies thinking of home. Not sure what I left behind or where I am now, meditating on the fringe or the outskirts of my own funky consciousness.
Did you know in Bhutan people eat with their hands and cut their toenails in public? You would think it is a perfect place for a hippie like me, ISN’T IT? Last night I dreamt I left Tsenkharla and cried. I didn’t want to say goodbye to the mountains and the great oak trees. Not to mention our treasure of giant cypress which line the pathway to the school. There is a lot to hang on to here and I hope to shift my attitude like the steamy clouds that brush the impermanent mountains. I can enjoy Tsenkharla at its pinnacle of greenery before the harvest of towering maize, potato, and rice. This is a pixies playground despite or in spite of the demons. I enjoy the fluttering butterflies and invasion of armored insects before they cycle away and the big wheel turns. So today I hammered a new attitude to my shoes and tried again. I have a better handle on how to teach the students these days and have been pleased with the lessons.
Oh, Happy birthday Jerry! You live on in all of our hearts forever. At Terrapin Crossroads (formerly the Palm Ballroom) MK pays his respects in style. This next poem is dedicated to Buddha’s first sermon so long ago.
Teach Me Too: In Memory of Lord Buddha’s First Sermon
Teach me to love myself
When I can’t stand my face
Teach me to forgive myself
When I have hurt others
Teach me to forget
When I only remember
Teach me to think of others
When only I am selfish
Teach me to be a better teacher
When I can’t get through
Teach me patience
When I am indignant
Teach me to be lighthearted
When my heart is made of stone
Teach me to meditate
When my mind is a Golden Langur
Teach me discipline
When I am lazy
Teach me acceptance
For things I cannot change
Teach me to believe in you
When Christ has forsaken me
So Many Roads
“Going where the sun don’t shine and the rain refuse to fall, you don’t seem to hear me when I call”
I love hiking at Tsenkharla since there are so many trails splintering in every direction. I will never explore them all but its fun to try. I have thoroughly explored the land of terror known as East Bhutan. I have taken all the main roads, east to Phongmay, west to Mongor, North to Yangtse, and South to Samdrup Jhonkhar and the border. I haven’t returned to West Bhutan since the formative days of disorientation and crossing the “Big La” at over 12,000 feet. In many ways the two regions are like separate countries with different languages and migration patterns. Even Drukpa Kunley (The Divine Madman) never ventured past Bumthang. He was too busy deflowering virgins and subduing demons to bother with the east. Or perhaps he knew the ancient demonic forces of the east could not be subjugated. At least the Guru made the long trip out leaving his imprint on rocks and his soul in our hearts. Buckle up kids it gonna be a long hard journey home!
Lazy River Road
“Run hide seek in your own backyard, mama’s backyard won’t do”
Sometimes I’m standing at the chalkboard when it occurs to me just where I am, about as far from home as I can be. As mentioned by UK Dave, this is our home now. But I am still a Californian not a Bhutanese. I might feel at home gazing at the mountains but I am just a visitor in this far off land. It’s been a remarkable journey to this point a culmination of every decision I have ever made. Now in my remaining time here I must leave my own positive imprint. I have made mistakes and blunders but am striving to improve as a teacher and a person. Even in the most terrifying moments Bhutan is a place of self realization. It’s not always pretty or what you wanted or expected, but it’s real. In this difficult realm it’s easy to see how we are all blessed simply to be alive. When you see a whimpering dying dog covered in blood and flies you realize that you are not so different. Reincarnation states that in the next life or prior life we could be that dog. It seems a random and auspicious turn of events to be born human. But I am reminded that like the animals and the flies feasting on a dead carcass we are all part of the life force. For my tiny part I want to positively influence the students I have contact with, at times the responsibility of being a teacher ways too heavy on my shoulders. It is a role I am still growing into while experiencing some “growing pains.” Being agnostic I must still implore faith in the process of growth and development. I have no defined form to PRAY upon. I am aimlessly drifting in this universe between the darkness and light. This is MY calling, just drifting and dreaming looking for the shoreline.
“What’s the point of calling shots, this cue ain’t straight in line, cue balls made of Styrofoam and no one’s got the time” Mississippi Half Step Uptown Tootaloo
I just got out of a four hour meeting. Bhutanese meetings are agonizingly intriguing. People talk over each other and shout in a warped version of democracy. This particular meeting was to outline a school discipline policy. My favorite moment was the level two offense of “prowling” at night commonly referred to as night hunting, or night crawling according to Sheal. This is the practice of boys breaking into a girls quarters and engaging in coitus. GRRRRRR! Outside the moon surfed on foamy clouds in this fairytale land, a cross between Lord of the Rings, Narnia, The Princess Bride, and Star Wars. The men’s gho looks a lot like a Jedi’s garb and right now with wonderland flowers pollinated by enormous bees and misty mountains, one has truly fallen down the rabbit hole and is not in Kansas anymore. How’s that for a popular culture mixed metaphor. Afterwards at a staff dinner talk turned to the Olympics and USA’s political world domination. That tears it! I rushed to Karlos and Sonam and gave them 1,000 NU so they can recharge their idiot box before the girls hit the mat, if it’s not too late. Just a taste of the action will satisfy my insatiable hunger for sport. A little link to my former life long ago in a galaxy far away…
Goodnight from somewhere over the rainbow!
P.S enjoy the two photos that took 28 minutes and all my vouchers to upload!
Living the dream, Sakteng!