Yesterday, I received a letter in my in-box from a woman, Mary, with whom I worked over seven years ago. Mary is one of those tender souls with great passion. I always loved my talks with her – and the way that she found spirit and guidance in her life. I asked her permission to share this here – because This Is Brave. (And, being brave, she obliged.)
“A couple of years ago I planned a 7-day trip to Tibet. I was going to be in China escorting adoptive families on homeland journeys, and thought I would extend my trip by a week and experience a 48-hour train ride to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet and soak in the culture.
When I got to China I had a wonderful two weeks with the adoptive families but I panicked about the side trip to Tibet. I decided I didn’t feel like I had set up the best plans to get me there, I was worried about how I might be affected by the altitude and I was going to be traveling solo –-though with the help of a guide. Around the time I was deciding with a broken heart to return home early, I developed a blood clot in my leg. Staying longer was definitely out of the question. I returned home disappointed.
This spring, I was asked to take another group of adoptive families to Vietnam. I had never been there and was really thrilled about the prospect. Since they were going to need me for only 7 days, I decided that I would go but wanted to extend my trip. It felt like 7 days was too short of a time period to travel that far.
I had seen a show on Bhutan on public television and thought, “If I am ever on that side of the world, I would love to visit Bhutan!” So I set about planning my trip. Everything I learned about Bhutan seemed amazing—they have a governmental policy of Gross National Happiness through which their government strives to make its citizens to be the happiest people on the planet! Tourism there is sustainable—your $200 per day fee pays for your guide, driver, car, hotel rooms, meals, tickets to museums, etc and even affords you bottled water. What ever is left over from the $200 daily rate goes to provide education to the Bhutanese youth and medical care for all citizens. Clearly they were doing something right. So I contacted a tour agency in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan and started making plans.
On the morning after I sent my money I had a little panic in the shower. Would I really be able to go? I had an overarching calm feeling come over me as I felt the presence of a recently departed friend tell me, “You can do it and I will be with you!” I decided that I would feel the fear and do it anyway!
So many people said “How can you leave your children for that long?” I always say that I think that, besides the fact that I have an incredibly competent spouse, I feel that it is important for children to see their parents doing something that they are passionate about. I had seen a doctor in relation to my blood clot issue. For over a year I have been stable on medicine that would prevent me from clotting. There should be no health issue.
While I was in Vietnam, experiencing that amazing culture, I found myself listening to Jason Mraz’s song, “Make It Mine” from his album “Beautiful Mess — Live on Earth”. At the beginning he says, “Wake up everyone, how can you sleep at a time like this– unless the dreamer is the real you. Listen to your voice the one that tells you to taste past the tip of your tongue—leap and the net will appear!” This became my song and Bhutan became my dream!
For five amazing days I was cradled in the arms of the Himalayas. I was steeped in the deep beautiful mystery of this Buddhist culture and country. I had no idea how extraordinary Bhutan was. Because I traveled solo, my guide was really able to tailor my trip to accommodate last minute serendipitous experiences. I was so alive and happy!
On my last day, we set out early to climb to the Tiger’s Nest—a monastery built into the side of a mountain (Google it for a visual!) It was hard—luckily I had no idea how hard it was before I went! Throughout my hours hiking up over 2000 feet, I was escorted by two black and brown dogs. One or the other of them would wander off and then come back as if to say “we are here to help you!” Their presence gave me strength and I nick named them “Kindness.”
The air was thin but very pure—my guide had given me these simple instructions: go at your own pace (he walked behind me), stop as you need to, and consider every step to be an offering to the Buddha. With his help and the presence of “Kindness” I reached the Tiger’s nest in about 4 hours.
Before I headed down the mountain I stopped for one last look at the view. One of the two dogs came and sat down beside me and the other sat on my feet. I knew that I had very good company on that hike and that when I leapt the net did appear! I was joyous!
I am a huge believer in doing the thing you think you cannot do!”
Me, too. Thank you, Mary – for sharing this with me (and now us). xo.