The Newest Members of Our Family

Trip Start Nov 12, 2005
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Trip End May 18, 2006


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Flag of United States  , New York
Monday, January 2, 2006

Its a quiet winter's day just on the other side of the New Year. A perfect day for reflection, for remembering. We have been back in the States for 2 weeks now, surrounded by Family and Friends back here. The question, "How was your trip so far?", rings in my ear. How to answer this question? With words like: Profound. Transformational. Life Affirming. Foundational. Simple. Easy. Embracing. And while all of these words are true, in some ways, the trip was really nothing at all but more life. As I have looked back on my life, I see the habit of thinking: Now I will do this thing that will be separate from my normal life. Whether that thing was travels abroad or an expedition into the woods, I seemed to think that somehow the coming experience would be separate from the rest of my life and therefore I would be different, could be different. Different how? More in the moment. More receptive, more alive, essentially more the way I wanted to be. What I noticed this time, however, was that I felt no different while traveling then I do in my day to day back here in the States. Have I changed over the years, has the way of being that I formerly associated with travel integrated itself into my daily life in the States? And conversely, have I begun to think of travel as less of a once in a lifetime experience and therefore been more willing to just move through it as I would any day? Yes and yes, I suspect. Both of these merged into a pervasive feeling of life just happening while in Nepal.

I believe that this feeling was heightened by the ease with which we found ourselves once again in the embrace of dear friends. From the moment of landing, we were taken in by people in a way that was both familiar and warm. This is epitomized by our meeting Mukthi in the airport at Kathmandu when we first landed back in early November. We heard her mention to a taxi driver that she was headed to the same guesthouse we were so we joined her ride and our travels were forever changed, as it was Mukthi who would introduce to Shashi and Prerna. From there, Shashi and Prerna would introduce to so much: more new Nepali and Tibetan friends, hidden places, and Buddhism just happening in daily life, but most importantly through them we would find Boudha to not just be a place to visit, but a home. And I am reminded once again why I travel, it is not to amass new experiences or cool photos like a stamp collector but to form deep connections to people and places all around the world. And that is exactly what our new friends made possible.

I reflect too on the generosity of so many friends who were taking the Buddhist teachings we took with Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche. Finding ourselves unexpectedly in advanced teachings necessitated a crash course in everything we might have learned had we been studying Buddhism for the decade before arriving in Nepal in November. Hours of endless conversations, heated debates and tireless questioning helped us to feel as though we were right there with the teachings as they came at us. And not only did these beautiful friends (you know who you are!) give us information, more importantly, they inspired us. Through stories, through years of dedication and most importantly, through who they are and how they are moving through the world. So, once again, friendship opened a door for us.

And here I sit, in NY. Preparing my belongings to fly to Seattle tomorrow! (Yes! Its true! I'll be in Seattle for 4 amazingly fast, fun filled, packed days where I will try to cram in seeing every single person I can out there). I am nearly bounding out of my seat I am so excited. And this trip is only possible because of the help of dear friends and family, both financially and logistically. And I have spent the last weeks immersed in families and love...Alex's parents, Chuck and Jen and the girls, Aunt Susie, My folks, the 5 J's, the Brothers and so many more treasured people, celebrating and laughing and catching up. Surrounded by love. Everywhere we go. And I know that truly it does not matter where we are, any of us, for there is so much love in this world. Such richness of connection and shared life just waiting to happen. And I know that travel is not a separate experience from my life, but simply the next day of a life lived from love and friendship.

Enjoy the photos of our new friends and family from Nepal. We treasure each of you so deeply and are so excited to return to India next Wednesday (January 11), where we will begin our travels in S. India, Kerala to be specific. A month long ayruvedic cleanse on a small coastal island with hammocks and lots of massage oil is next on the docket!
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