May 12, 2013: Active Day 7, Sunshine, Reggae, Chocolate and Cricket

Snow through our bedroom window.

Snow through our bedroom window.

The next morning we woke up to... snow!! The view from our window was epic already with Everest and Ama Dablam in the background. The fresh powder made Rivendell that much more enchanting. I had never heard of a snow thunderstorm and was really surprised to see the dusting of white. Dovile and I chatted about dreams as we got ready to go upstairs for breakfast. Altitude for some reason makes a lot of people have angry or violent dreams. I'd love to hear a theory on what causes this. I wondered if it was old stuff wanting to be released that had an easier time bubbling up to the surface in the thin air. Her dreams sounded pretty intense. My dreams were ordinary if I remembered them at all. My experience in Nepal was more of a waking dream, and a really delicious one at that. That morning was the first time I remember becoming conscious of what we would come to refer to as "the breakfast song." It was probably playing in the background the whole trip, but now that it had a nickname, it became an obvious morning tradition. More Om mani padme hum, only set to music: Since we were lucky enough to have two nights in Rivendell, the day's only planned activity was another acclimatization hike. The sun was out, and the sky was perfectly clear. No one was in any particular hurry to get going and a pickup game with the rubber ball ensued. We climbed back up the stone path towards the monastery. DK picked a wildflower and stuck it behind his ear. (Scarlet Begonias was stuck in my head after that for hours. ♫ The one scarlet with the flowers in his hair, he's got the police comin' after me. ♫ Is it in yours now too? Good. You're welcome.) Mike did an excellent impression of Bradley Nowell's What I Got. (I don't remember now exactly what day this conversation took place, it just fits here.) "See? You have rhythm!" I teased him. "Only because I've heard it a thousand times." "Hey, whatever it takes. Maybe in Lukla we'll hypnotize you and get you up on stage in a pair of moon boots like Napoleon Dynamite." He laughed that fantastic laugh. Kevin and Ele took pictures of a particularly yakkish yak at the top. We climbed up above the monastery until it got too steep to safely traverse the snow and posed for pictures.
A fine specimen. Photo credit: Eleanor Tresidder

A fine specimen.
Photo credit: Eleanor Tresidder

View of Ama Dablam from Rivendell.

View of Ama Dablam (22,493 ft., 6,856 m) from Rivendell.

The way we came.

The way we came.

Rock on K-Fed on Rock

Rock on K-Fed on Rock

Helicopter tour. Do you reckon they had a decent view up there?

Helicopter tour. Do you reckon they had a decent view up there?

Prayer flags and rhododendron.

Prayer flags and rhododendron.

Sudip and Tengboche Gompa

Sudip and Tengboche Gompa

Tengboche Gompa

Tengboche Gompa

IMG_3324 IMG_3325
Back at Rivendell, the snow melted into sunshine, reggae and chocolate. It was a perfect day. DK had music playing on his phone and passed around some chocolate. He and Dovile laid out in the sun. Sudip even treated him to a massage. "Take a photo and send it back to Active!" he said. Ele took a picture and captioned it out loud: "This is how hard DK works!" I enjoyed the view of Everest in my long-sleeved shirt, trying to protect my barbecued forearms (one of the hazards of using hiking poles) from any further damage and did some more journaling. "Life is good. What would it take for every day to be as good as this or better?" I wrote. The boys started up a game of cricket. Eventually most of our crew joined in, and I took some videos of the scene. Raamro means "good" I especially remember DK on the cricket field. Longish hair, bare feet... a Kiwi native playing with the Nepali boys and American tourists and completely at home among both, radiating a sort of contentment that I could only imagine comes from fully living a life of your own creation. There was nothing about him that felt fake and I found that so refreshing. At that point, it was harder for me to see some of the others on the tour in this way, when conversation consisted of little more than casual street talk, career ambitions or movie quotes. Where was the real person? Who am I more like? I felt in limbo on either side of the spectrum. I no longer fit in with the mainstream, but have yet to fully realize what I'm here for. It was a lonely place. What would it take to fully step in to my most authentic self? At least now I had an idea of what it might look like.
This is closer to my idea of a freedom, the possibility and prospect of "free life," traveling light, without clinging or despising, in calm acceptance of everything that comes; free because without defenses, free not in an adolescent way, with no restraints, but in the sense of the Tibetan Buddhist's "crazy wisdom," of Camus's "leap into the absurd" that occurs within a life of limitations. The absurdity of life may well end before one understands it does not relieve one of the duty (to that self which is inseparable from others) to live it through as bravely and generously as possible. Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard
After lunch everyone but Amanda and I left the common room to do fun things like wash socks or take a shower. She worked on her journal and I made it my ambition to simply stare out the window, take in the epic view, and drink tea until the pot was finished. When was the last time I allowed myself to just sit and do nothing? In my meditation I kept coming back to two ideas. The first was that all paths lead nowhere; all that matters is whether or not the one we choose to take has heart. The second was that when we dig deep enough, we'll find that every world view is wrong. Good news, because it sets us free to consider them all and choose what works for us in the moment. With these two ideas in mind, what path would I choose when I returned? I like to think that our souls are here to enjoy life. Yet I still felt tied to my old way of being. What would it take to release those ties by the time this trip was done? Outside ravens soared on the breeze. Local boys played ball and frisbee outside while the girls looked on, giggling. Tattered prayer flags fluttered in the wind. Amanda finished her journal and went downstairs. I poured another cup. Huge mountain houseflies bumped against the glass and crawled along the windowsill looking for an escape. I watched our tea house hostess catch them in her hands and open a window to let them outside. I couldn't have asked for a better example of eastern kindness and compassion. What would I have done? Thoughtlessly grab a fly swatter, probably. Not anymore though. We can learn much from the rest of the world if we pause long enough to take it in. Some ideas for the future entered my mind. I wrote them down, resolved to take action when I got home, and poured my last glass. For now it was still chill time. There was no one left upstairs but me and Sudip. How long had he been there? How long had I been there? I retreated to enjoy my last hot shower for the next four days, which for some reason was not as scalding as the day before. I did this more for something to do, than because I felt I needed one. Strange as it may sound, the natural smell of hikers and pack animals were becoming a familiar comfort.

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