Saturday, October 27, 2012


Lost Sailor

“drifting and dreaming”

My health troubles continue and every day brings a new ailment, the flu, earache, diarrhea, and cough. But despite my feelings I hit the trail on a bluebird day in Bhutan. The distant peaks of Tawang sparkled with a fresh coat of snow and fluffy clouds hovered on the horizon. The East side is a rugged landscape with deciduous forests and bare earth exposed. A huge round mountain demarcates India from Bhutan and is about ten miles as the crow flies from my door. This land was disputed and fought over in the Indo China war of 1962. The area remains sensitive and China still claims Tawang as part of Tibet. From my stoop I can see a road on the Indian side but it is not connected to Bhutan. This leaves a buffer of no-man’s-land between the two countries. In this territory is a bumpy ridge that looks like the spikes of a dragon tail with spires and pinnacles. At the end of the tail is a tabletop peak that looks like a lone tooth or crown jewel which appears only a few hundred yards in diameter. Although there is no possible way up to that point, it is my geographical paradise. I am not exactly sure how such complex formations were ever formed and how thousands of mountains roll out in all directions. Most of the endless geography within view is impossible to reach as it is virgin wilderness. I traversed to the west side of the ridge towering over Shali a hamlet that clings to an olive slope descending to the Kulongchu far below. The colors of the forests are spectacular with every shade of green turning to golden brown. Flowering bushes of pink, purple, blue, and white decorate the dark hollows within the pine forest. The pendulum swings revealing a spell bounding autumnal magic. The earth itself seems reflective and mature and Becky’s words echo in my head, “bash on regardless.” Despite all the hardships I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I spent the day interacting with students in the forest and at school. Here are some standout moments. My class 8 student Sangay Dema was herding cows in a turquoise kira near my favorite overgrown chorten. A class ten boy studied in the woods while chewing on a wad of dolma which he gleefully exclaimed was part of Bhutanese culture. And I chatted with Karma and Yeshi while watching a perfect sunset at my favorite rock. Exams are near and the students are in study mode. I went outside to star gaze at 4:30 AM only to find a shivering student huddled under the light outside my door.

I hope to open my heart as wide as the view, to lose myself in the void. This is my most sacred land which is interesting since my heart home is the American West. But Trashiyangtse resonates on a deep note striking my rusty umbilical cord. Loving nature is a special kind of love grander than any other version. People come and go but the rhythms of nature last indefinitely. We have two dramatically different scenes unfolding from the central mountain paradise of Tsenkharla. I feel like a stowaway on Mt. Olympus. I can’t believe that five years ago I had never heard of Bhutan. Now I can’t imagine spending my days anywhere else. The reader might wonder how this boy is all over the map. Well its hard living here and at times I want to run away. But on a basic natural level this will always be my home until the day I die. How does the author except the forces that brought him hear? How do I let go so I can embrace the profound beauty of now. We all have those moments of ah in Bhutan. Thanking our auspicious stars for getting to be here. Just like we all have our moments of utter frustration. Whatever happens from here on out I got to see the view and help some students along the way. When Karma Eden asked if I would remember her I realized that I am a teacher, A novice, but a teacher. After a life of drifting and dreaming this epiphany has profound significance. But your shaky eyed author has a long way to go in the land of spiritual awakening.

Saint of Circumstance

“Odds against me been increasing, but I’ll pull through”   

Becky always calls me a prophet regarding my choice of tiger in a trance for my blog title. Maybe your author is an ESTIMATED prophet who is ambling towards the light. Last year in Eugene Bobby pointed up to the night sky before launching into Lost Sailor. I followed the arrow and here I am. I have time to reflect on the songs that make up my soul but still can’t crack “Saint.” It hints of unseen forces that drive the dreamer to the brink of an illusion. It is a song about Bhutan conceived in a Wyoming ditch during a rogue thunderstorm. So for now the author is content, going on a feeling! When I am absorbing the view surrounded by roses and ravens I can feel the raw current of love flowing around me.  All around the world Bobby lights up a crowd, Reed smiles, and my former lovers make love to their new lovers. With sunlight penetrating my dusty third eye it all makes a semblance of sense.

Forgive your author who gets squirrely with the full moon. On an academic note I managed to put in several hours making exams today and am nearing completion. I am trying to prepare my students but they will struggle with the unseen essays and poems that I am forced to include on the exam. I wonder how teaching in rural Bhutan will develop my career. I have limited resources and students with limited English skills yet somehow WE develop. Teaching on the fringe is exhilarating. Maybe in some ways it parallels the challenges of an inner city job. ESL teaching is my bread and butter or my rice. There is something magical about forging relationships on the other side of the globe. Part of what struck me about Karma’s comment was that I will be remembered by my students throughout their lifetimes.  And although I am far from all that is familiar and everything I love, my reach is expanding into new realms. It wasn’t an easy row getting here and I must exert as much effort as possible while in exile.         

Ladies Luncheon, Trashigang Bakery
The Estimated Prophet

1 comment:

  1. Timmy-
    Thanks for continuing to share your adventures.
    Next post (or email), can you let us know what your list of "wants" are. For you personally, and for your students. We are going to send a box soon and your mom and brother can bring some things with them when they come to visit as well.
    Love and miss you.
    The Grossman Clan