I've just come back from another fabulous trip to Nepal, some trekking, some chilling, some peace. She surely is my spiritual home and I was so very glad to visit her warmth once again. Whilst trekking in the Annapurna Himalaya I made some things next to the trail. Here's an excerpt from my journal on the day I made this little sculpture:-
Nepal isn't like anywhere else I've ever been. It seems to change me on the inside, it's not just the outside environs that are different.
Other places in the world have left my soul untouched. It's as though I've simply taken the me from home and travelled with it to a foreign land. I'm still the home 'me', stood somewhere else.
But Nepal is different, it seeps through my pores and changes me to what I should be. I feel at peace, confident and full of joy. My sensitivity becomes a blessing and never a chore. It's as though my sensitivity was designed to live in and appreciate the multi-faceted beauty of this place.
It is much more than the mountains, the landscape, the trails, the walking. It's the people, the magical encounters, the just about bloody everything. But most of all it's the way I can open my heart and soul and let all the world pour in. Without cynicism, without fear, without shyness, without worrying about difficult emotions and how I will handle them. Without the need to manufacture situations so I can sheild myself from things I can't cope with, all and everything that holds me back, makes my sensitivity difficult and taxing and sometimes the bane of my life. Here I am free, unleashed, filled with joy and happiness.
I can let my sensitivity fly free and grab onto every wonderful flower, tree or bird and to experience the rhythmic magic of simply placing one foot in front of the other. This is where I am meant to be , unshackled and home at last.
Now don't get me wrong. I have a rich and fulfilled time at home. But the mundanaties of life push spikily against my psyche and make some everyday tasks and relationships difficult. To feel every nuance can render you often vulnerable, confused and overwhelmed. Aching to hide from the world and to launch my vessel into the river of my own inner thoughts. That's why I love to cycle, to run, to walk, to climb and to create. The sublime lives within these things and I go looking for them to release my soul on a long leash and to let it stretch its legs for a while.
But being in Nepal is not simply a holiday, a break from those taxing minutiae of everyday life. I am not free of those things through simply being away, when I've travelled to somewhere in the States, Europe or South America I've brought a lot of those things with me.
But here I've stepped through the secret door in the back of the wardrobe into another me and another realm.
It's only when I'm here that I remember. It's only here when I am totally me once again. All those times when my innards soared skywards when climbing a snow covered mountain at home, when I've cycled to a long toiled for hill summit or lived the moment when a sculpture resonates, becomes vibrant and electric, when it is more than the sum of its parts. All those times join together with all the months I've spent in Nepal, connecting together all the sublime times in my life.
Another existence running in parallel, rich and diverse and perfect. Perhaps that's what Buddhist enlightenment feels like. Where you can ride the waves and ripples of life. It does not matter what happens, it only matters how it affects you. If the rough feels as important and as interesting as the smooth then maybe you've found the secret to how you should live your life.
I cannot manage to live in this enlightened way much of the time but I am so very grateful to have as much of it as I do. I hope to extend the length of these moments and tie the ends together with little knots in the strands of experience. And maybe one day I'll have a very long length of tightly woven cord, stretching from one side of my existence to the other and nothing, and everything will matter all at the same time.
Aside from how this place makes me feel it is brimful of brilliant in such a wonderful myriad of ways. Today was an experience of a thousand different treats.
We waited for the sun to warm us before shouldering packs and trudging into dense bamboo forest. We entered a deep gorge that is the gateway into the Annapurna Sanctuary and the trail cuts a path along the steep gorge walls like a wound.
Laim, Bamboo and Rhododendron forest dapple the light onto our faces and beneath our feet is a carpet of fallen coloured leaves while massive, savage peaks cut holes in the fabric of the sky.
Julia was a little way behind so I stopped awhile and sat on a warmed, sunlit stone. I collected up some red, orange and yellow leaves and cut circles around a five rupee coin. I stripped some sedge grass and pinned them on with Berberis thorns.
Unusually I could step off the trail here and pin my sculpture up in a tree. Normally the drop offs, either side of the trail, are so steep that you can touch the top of the trees. Nepal is so very corrugated and dramatic but not so good for setting up a little sculpture amongst the foliage. But here was perfect with plenty of room to pick a good spot with bright sunshine and plenty of contrast. Within a few minutes it was positioned and set against the dark trunk of a Rhododendron tree. The breeze swung the branch it was fixed to so I snapped away hoping for something good and sharp and clear.
My land art comes in thirds. Every third attempt just seems to click. All the elements combine just as I imagine they may do if I had had a plan in the first place.
A quick stop on a rock in the sunshine, surrounded by beautiful hued leaves. A quick circular route with scissors and a construction was soon created. Everything combined as I would want it. The place, the materials, the sunshine: click, it was all there.
So this was the third of the three and how I would want it to be. All the pieces fell into place without me really trying very hard.
If you live your life without expecting anything and then are happy with whatever life dishes up, then surely that's a better way to be. If you can conjure up that carefree existence, go with the flow and live from moment to moment it just seems to come together how you may have wanted it to if you'd spent any time wondering how you will want it to be. But the key seems to be not wasting any time pondering on what you would wish for and grasping gently and just letting everything be. Maybe not everything will be just how you would like it, but surely you'll settle for one in three!