Monday, January 24, 2011
Trouble in the Jungle
Although it's been months since my last post, it seems like just yesterday. My trip to Nepal with my ten-year old son is still reverberating in me as if my heart were a giant Tibetan singing bowl that never stops ringing. We made amazing friends whose words and presence continue to inspire me, I taught yoga to eager school kids who seemed to know more about yoga than I did, and we narrowly escaped with our lives from a misadventure in the jungle during the monsoon. I'll let you in on a little secret: our time in the jungle really freaked me out. You know when you scare yourself, badly? You see a shadow that makes you jump, or hear a noise that makes your heart beat uncontrollably? Usually you realize it was just the dog thumping around, or a tree branch, or your own foot. You laugh at yourself a moment, take a deep breath; all is right again with the world. But not this time. The threat of being unable to leave the jungle as it flooded around us was not imaginary, but all too real. I was scared, scared for my son, for our lives: really scared like I haven't been in years. For three days I worried about how we were going to be able to safely leave the jungle where no roads led, and no helicopters flew. Of course, the critical part of my brain that echoes helpful sentiments like, "What kind of mother takes her only child to the middle of a third world jungle during the monsoon season?" did nothing to alleviate my fears. We had taken a dilapidated jeep to the end of a pocked gravel road, a tiny fishing boat across a massive river, and a two-hour elephant ride into the heart of the jungle. When we awoke on the first morning, it had poured biblical rain for eighteen hours, and we were told it wasn't safe to leave. Or stay. Eventually we did leave, thanks to a break in the rain and our fearless elephant friends who knocked over trees as they created a path through the least flooded part of the jungle. Thanks to the experienced boatmen who navigated us safely across the swollen river that covered the entire valley. And thanks to the dilapidated jeep. I've never been so happy to see a rusted-out vehicle, with its lack of seatbelts, odometer and windows! When we arrived back in Katmandu, I sat at the edge of the Bagmati River at Pashtupati Temple with a garland of chrysanthemums in my lap and gave thanks and offered blessings to everyone in my life, friends and loved ones old and new, as I tossed each blossom into the water and watched it sink into the churning current. We had survived the jungle. Returning home, arriving at SFO after our adventure, walking out into my partner's arms, and putting my son safely into his own bed took on a deep, satisfying sweetness. I had a brand new shiny life to live. Nothing quite like endangering your life to appreciate the one you have. May you appreciate your extraordinary life today-- without imperiling it!