(compiled from journal notes taken over the past month. Apologies in advance for any repetitions and disjointedness… )
Especially as my last week in McleodGanj (for this visit) begins, I often stand and stare out over the valley and mountains beyond and fall into a reverie…
I do not ever want to forget this time, these views, these feelings. No matter how much I look at the scenery, it seems almost mystical. I am not sure it would be engraved on my memory if I never came here again and somehow lost my photos…
What will I remember? The terraced hillsides, multi-colored buildings climbing haphazardly up steep slopes, the greens and yellows of unknown plants blooming the last 10 days of January, the way Triund and the peaks seemed to vanish and reappear from clouds, the brown rocky gashes where heavy rains carved down the slopes, dirt trails winding along the mountains’ contours…Indian villagers in multi-colored garments carrying baskets of stone or guiding their herds of goats and cattle…and most of all I will cling to the memory of Tibetan Buddhist monks with blood red robes wrapped and draped or flapping in the wind as they walk…
Why do those robes make me feel this way? I have a strong sense of sorrow and loss…Was I a monk or nun in some past life? Is that why I long to be around those shining round faces, why I feel so connected to their vibe? Did we walk arm in arm or lean on one another in some past life as we debated philosophy? Is that why I get such an intense feeling of longing and fascination when Geshe-la makes his debate gestures? Is that why I feel like I recognize Sakaya? Is that why I feel so incredibly sad when I think about leaving them? Is that why the chants mesmerize me?
I go through dramatic emotional shifts. I feel like I cannot stay here then like I cannot go back to America. I feel like I will never feel “right”…I have glimpsed what I have been missing since childhood, and I cannot bear to give it up again, and I cannot bear to be here as a foreigner always on the outside looking in. I want what they’ve got, emotionally speaking…They all look so carefree. They all seem happy in spite of everything.
I have many “things” and nothing to which I am spiritually connected or accepted by.
I feel like I cannot do this another minute and yet I feel like I cannot leave.
And yet I WILL leave, in only 9 days. On the 10th day I will arrive back in Mumbai to a totally different world. I hope Titu understands and allows me a full day to get my head around being there…Or would it perhaps be better for me to leap fully back into life, there? To take the taxi to Colaba and shop and not be afraid of India like I was when I first got here…
I feel like even with all I have said in these pages, that there is SO much I have left unsaid. I feel like I have forgotten to write about many amazing moments, both deep and humorous.
One day there will be a book, if I can ever figure out how to put it together.
How to reconcile the hilarity and absurdity and amazing spirituality of all of this…
I cannot bear the thought of leaving these people. How can I explain to them that my life has been so lonely, that it has been years since I felt this close to anyone? How can I tell them that I will miss their companionship and openness and joking every single day? That my heart will feel so empty being so far away from them?
I love them all. I love every single one of them in some very deep powerful way. I love them selfishly AND unselfishly. I love them and I set them free. Letting them go their own way, not pursuing them…THAT is when they most want to be around me.
So…off with you, then, go do whatever it is you do when you are not “studying”. Your appeal does not lessen, it actually increases. You are like exotic wild animals…beautiful and mysterious and always a little out of reach. And like wild animals, they are fun to watch, but you cannot keep them in cages, you cannot tame them.
Sometimes I am afraid of people because I am afraid of myself…I am afraid I am a freak. I am afraid they will see something in me that is unforgivable.
I want to transform this experience into BEAUTIFUL writing.
I want to write poetry and literature and somehow capture the essence of what it means to be here, changing my life, living loving and learning NOW…
How I will never forget:
Walking in the rain in the Himalayan foothills without an umbrella…being connected to all these other souls even though we do not speak the same language…
Learning to love without expectations…Learning how to let go…learning and forgetting and relearning…Learning forgiveness…and re-learning innocence… Trying to breathe and say IT JUST IS, IT IS WHAT IT IS, and everything is as it should be.
I mean, I am pretty blessed, right? I need to stop wanting MORE and enjoy what I HAVE…Sometimes it all seems so simple.
**India is quite possibly the strangest place on the planet.
10pm? Steam shovel? No problem.
Midnite? Welding? No problem.
5am? rooftop Bollywood party? Sure!
Unless, of course, it is something which actually NEEDS done, in which case…good luck.
“SYSTEMATIC CHAOS” Titu calls it when I tell him the above…
I have resorted to shaking my head. There is no point in resistance.
It really is just what it is.
I no longer hate it. I do not love it…but I accept it. I have made some kind of peace with it.
In some strange way, McleodGanj is really starting to feel like home.
I have friends here. I have PLACES. I am accepted…or at least tolerated.
I have come to belong.
Even though I know I will be back, leaving is going to rip me apart.