Standing next to a cliff with fresh ice melt trickling into a stream, weaving between hundreds of animal skulls and pelts; the smell of the rot is overwhelming. I carefully, and respectfully, walk away from the ritual grounds while never turning my back upon the site of ancient magic.
A small group of Tibetans greet me and there is a community of three or four families living in permanent, mud packed structures. I watch her laughing to herself as she marches along the perimeter of the organic, white washed, wall. Walking towards the stupa, she slips her hand into my palm. Closing her tiny, weather worn fingers around my hand and we look at each other and smile with a child-like gaze. No one is leading nor lagging; traveling together in unison and harmony; souls complementing one another.
The touch reminds me I’m human, with all my insecurities and fears; overwhelmed with the innocence, imagination, and purity of the child’s love. We play with the horses, laugh under the prayer flags while inspecting and investigating everything that sparks our curiosity. She falls over with giggles after watching my attempt to milk the goats, even after her excellent hands-on instructions. She is flying around all of us, feet barely ever touching the ground, buzzing with energy and joy. Her brightness and warmth glows as intense as the last, and single ray of sunshine.
We have forgotten how to play, as adults, like when we were innocent children. We have been conditioned to follow the herd which leaves our child self yearning for approval and tending to. We are losing our imagination. We are losing our desire to spend countless hours with our self to hope, dream, recollect, and LOVE.
Every day, I find somewhere to dance, whether it’s in my room or in the streets during my evening walk that I take every night after 11pm. My street disco has made some laugh, some smile, some point. I have to do what makes me happy while causing no harm to others. I’ve begun to learn a new instrument and I’m going back to creating art, such as sketching and drawing. I allow myself more time away to stare out the windows and watch the storm clouds without the guilt I should be “working”. I’ve had to find a way to survive in this society that has told us we are “ill” or “wrong” for straying from the herd…refusing to be led to a life of apathy and complacency.
In light of this weeks events, I’ve made a big mistake and opened my mouth before thinking and writing it out eloquently and posted it on Facebook. I apologize for all those I upset, and please feel free to request I remove you from the mailing. I’ve shut down Facebook because it’s proved to me that most of those 1002 “friends” don’t know me, don’t know my tone, and have no idea what I do with my life. They have no idea of where I’ve come from nor care where I’m going. I’ve only recently learned how depressed people become by watching a FB newsfeed…so I’ve decided to quit blasting people with positive and thought provoking ideas. You can come here, and as some of you know, I respond to every email I receive.
Because I plan on writing this book about finding a selfless path and mindful way to live, it’s becoming easier to voice why I chose to go on a “journey”. In retrospect, my journey was much like a spiritual pilgrimage where I found my own church, temple, mecca, stupa, and learned to love myself. In the night sky, I found my constellation…the lone huntress with her antelope at her side. She sparkles so bright and lights the way ahead. “Stars can not shine without darkness”…and I birth my genius in the blackest of nights.
I have been refusing a simple label of “ill” for the past 22 years. I refuse to believe that we as humans, as soulful, compassionate, loving, and nurturing bundles of amazing energy, can be simply labeled as “ill” or “wrong”. The mind is an amazing muscle and it needs exercise, freedom, love, and understanding. I left on my pilgrimage to save myself…to find a reason why I am the way I am. To find a fulfilling path in life and to understand that life is not purely for the benefit of the self. Sacrifice. I’ve had to face, and still daily, all the horrible, selfish, demeaning, embarrassing things I’ve done over the past 35 years. But I know in my heart, it was learning, it was developing, it was that led me here. How else was an adult suppose to survive that was told she was “ill” at 13? Telling that to an adolescent is like handing her a death wish…especially a very awkward, out of place, funny, loving, and creative girl.
As someone that has faced death by choice more than once and has come too close by accident, I want to say one thing. Do what you have to to survive. Anything, ANYTHING. But do it with thoughtfulness and awareness. Question everything. Look! Feel! We are losing dreamers, thinkers, creatives, loving, empathetic, selfless people to suicide. The universe is losing the souls that will make a difference, that try to save us from ourselves, that are telling us to open our eyes.
We are not “ill”, we are living in a diseased society that refuses to allow us to be true to our nature.
I’m not really sure if I should post this, or I will…but I want to thank each and everyone of you for having the bravery to live your life to the best way you see fit. I didn’t start this blog to be popular or win friends. I did this for me…and I hope I can share something with you. Even if before you write, “Please remove me from your mailing list”, I hope I provoked you to think about what’s going on in our culture.
Granted, not everyone can just jump on a bicycle and whiz around the world to figure it out. I get this. I’m beyond blessed. BEYOND. And every day I wake up thanking everyone, the cosmos, the heavens, mother nature, father time, God, Allah, whoever is listening…that I’m here, with another chance to make amends and do good. I hope this weekend you can take a hike into the woods, or go to the beach, or read a book…or turn up that music and just dance like no one is watching. I want you to laugh so hard you fall on the floor with your belly full of joy.
All this stuff has really helped me developed my voice as a photographer as well. We all know the world is suffering, I’m now looking for the voices of survivors. Those that can inspire us to think and live differently. Uyghurs, Central Asians, Tibetans, Bangladeshis…I love them all equally and I always turn my thoughts to them and see their smiles under back breaking labor or brick dust coating every inch of their body.
I’ve consciously chosen this path of being alone, working alone, being broke most of the time. I don’t need a lot in my life, I went without for so long. I can’t think this life any other than a blessing…because I’ve found peace within myself.
DANG, this felt good.
LOVE PEACE AWARENESS CLARITY ACTION AND CONSCIOUSNESS…GO!