attack of the Himalayan fleas 2010 has officially struck the land of xoch. i have at least twenty flea bites gracing my limbs and torso. in my first flat, i had the fortune of spotting the fleas before they could attack. memories of myself, a huge hammer in hand, pounding the fleas to their doom now flash in my eyelids. (my Bhutanese friends keep telling me the fact that i killed them ensures that i will continue to be attacked--"for every flea you kill...it's like killing 300 people"). in this new flat, however, good fortune has not been had. i managed to scorch five flees in my electric heater in the last few nights, but some of the little guys survived (i know this because i now itch in new locations). while the itching is unbearable and the sheer thought of fleas gives me the heebeegeebees...i can't help but giggle. since i arrived in Bhutan, i've had severe stomach problems a few different times, i've hallucinated on account of the malaria medication i had to take (which i didn't actually have to take), i've gone blind because of different standards in protective welding equipment, i've been extremely car sick on almost all the driving adventures i've gone on (i refuse to take the medication because i would sleep through the endless beauty of this land), i've been brave enough to drink tap water once under extremely brave and desperate circumstances and i've been attacked by a fleet of invisible fleas who seem to be multiplying by the day. oh the thrill of the different faces of adventures! i giggle and giggle...the fleas made me realize what a "sort of" american i am.
in these last few days i've been approached by and met quite a few new people, both Bhutanese and "chillip". the same questions are always asked, and in these last few days i've scratched and itched as i answer them. such a tiny physical detail reaffirms the feeling in me that perhaps the nature of my time in Bhutan has been a "different kind of beautiful".
"so are you working here?"
"how long have you been here?"
"how do you find Bhutan?"
"when are you planning to leave?"
"what all have you seen?"
these questions are the questions anyone would normally ask. they seem simple and easy to answer. however, the moment i am asked "how do you find Bhutan?" simplicity and easy answers go out the window. of course i always say everything has been beautiful and incredible because it has been. and i smile and giggle a nervous giggle because i know that the beauty i have seen is not the clean easy beauty most people expect i am talking about. the beauty i have seen is born of reality and the balance of the many levels and faces of life that live in humans. the beauty i have seen is of the sort that lives in mysteries and grows out of invisible memories, and that single ever present memory (the one i wrote about when i saw the elephant kings and queens). the beauty i have seen has not only consisted of other-worldly mountains and landscape and beautiful culture. that has been at the core of the things that have taken my breath away and made me feel like i was floating...but there have been other things that have touched me deeply. they have grown with different force and strength and it is for that reason that "Bhutan" has been more incredible than any "easy" journey i could go on.
i came on this adventure in search of questions. i came on this journey to learn from children how questions are found...i came to teach children the importance of their voice and their questions. i came to help youth understand the undeniable value of THE SEARCH. (their booming brains are so very capable of understanding how they can use THE SEARCH to make life better now and later on--for everyone) that complexity that is so overwhelming for us "big people" fades into the background when you work with children. the ability youth have to simplify everything is what is most valuable about working with them. i like to tell myself i came searching for just one question but i know that part of me (it's in all humans) that wants the easy road is begging me to believe there is only one question. there are so many.
i have a friend back at home...(he and his friend call themselves the Mexicans at Night)...he sings "it's like i can't really even sing about how it would be...if you go"
i have gone...and i find myself in a position where, most of the time, i can't begin to find words. the experience has been full of lows and highs that move like the mountains in this place. the experience (i'm right about half way done "officially") has moved me through depths and dooms and heights of living i didn't dream existed. the children, though they may not know it now, have spent these last three months searching with me. we have found many questions and everyday they have a new one for me. throughout this process, they have helped me discover so many questions...and most of the time my brain feels like a bee hive. the evidence of humanity's touch dances about in this place, to rhythms and with steps that are interconnected and complicated. that dance is one whose rhythm and pace is nearly impossible to follow, much less become a part of. but that dance, the dance this Kingdom is dancing, in all its fierce, sometimes clumbsy, mostly graceful and always seemingly fluid movements is breath taking. every piece of the whole (of everything) somehow exists in Bhutan. it exists and it moves softly into every sense that makes me and everyone else a human.
in all this swaying swooshing search, i am happy to say i have found the one question (at least "the one" for now). it is the first that is clearly and simply formed in my soul. it is the one i've fallen asleep and woken up thinking about for some time now. i'm sure it will change as i change, but for now, it is the one question i can see clearly. all that i have watched and heard and touched and felt takes seed in the answer to this one question. it's the best way i could connect all the questions i've asked myself and others...simply and completely. when i say 'best' i refer to the question's relation to my generally positive outlook, of course. angry, scared, sad and negative questions don't give us the clear and graceful answers.
it's a question i've asked myself before, but HERE and NOW i seem to understand its depth more entirely...and in a way that does not revolve around me and the spaces i'm familiar with. (farawayness and its goodness are in full swing)
...tick tock, mysteries, ghosts, then and now, here and there and nowhere, "them", "me", "we", and all this that surrounds us...
what makes it
(anything and everything)
beautiful soft rain fell in Thimphu last night. the city fell silent (except for the sound of dogs) and tiny light danced about the edges of leaves and branches, sign boards and cracks in the ground. i smiled, took a deep breath, filled my lungs with clean Himalayan goodness and basked in the delicate hugeness of everything i felt in that moment. soft drops fell on my eyelashes and i knew...my skin told me "these drops are tiny pieces of everything, and here you are...dancing with them on your eyelashes. smiling."
the answer to the question, i'm certain, is why we must always go "onward through the fog"-an ancient woman sings to me from across the world.
as always...i send my warmest greetings from the ever lovely Kingdom of Bhutan...
p.s. please do enjoy all the photos in the last blog...i share them with you for your viewing pleasure.