1. The Father

    Sitting with 8 siblings in a small living area, lit with one bare fluorescent bulb, that smells of human spirit, animal pelts, and unpasteurized milk and cheese, there is the thunderous rumble of a machine outside. The excitement in the home grows; the smiles turn into laughter and the old rickety door is nearly thrown off it’s hinges as father comes through the doorway as blustery as a gale-force wind. Mother begins to laugh from the corner where she slices old wilted vegetables with her dark brown fingers that appear as dancing twigs from an old weeping willow tree. He’s a man of great stature, gentle composure, and the grandest smile that makes wrinkles appear at his eyes like the most exotic fish tails you could ever envision. The children run to him and embrace him tightly; countless arms wrapped around his massive body and I have to refrain from running to him as I’m overtaken by the simple joy, love, and harmony all around me. He removes his thick animal skin coat to keep the frozen Tibetan air from freezing his bones on the frigid and windy evenings and sits to enjoy the evening with his family. Each and every child, all 8, took turns sitting next to him, sharing stories of their day, explaining who the awkward foreigner was in the corner grinning from ear to ear…she must of looked as if in ecstasy.
    wandercyclist_5745

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  2. Play

    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.

    wandercyclist_5719

    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!

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  3. Choose to live.

    “Just choose one, Moseman…both will you lead you somewhere”. At a crossroads where I don’t have a legal permit to be, only 2 buses passing a day, 1 liter of water remaining, eating emergency food rations, and extended time at that altitude was causing horrendous physical effects, I was predicting my demise…you don’t have time to sit at a crossroads examining the paths to see which seems to show a history of more travel or kicking dirt around trying to forsee what will be at the end of each road. It’s not about the path we choose in life, it’s about making a choice and then cycling through with conviction, passion, dedication, free thought, and open heart. It’s not what route you choose that matters, it’s how you live through the journey that you felt was the “right”one at that moment. People say they are “lost”, no, they aren’t…they have chosen not to choose…they haven’t yet begun their journey. How can you be lost in life when you aren’t even living? This ain’t the gospel…just the inner-ramblings of a long-distance-lunatic-cyclist on a saga with skies in the eyes and a fiery heart that rules my journey.

    Eleanor Moseman is a photographer and storyteller that cycled solo around Asia and Tibet.

    Guess what ya’ll?! I’ve decided to hunker down in late winter/early spring to write the book. Yes…it’s ready to be spilled and chapters written that never graced this blog.

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  4. Mercy

    Hours spent sitting along the banks of Namucuo, the highest alpine lake on Earth, watching the current bring the most crystal clear water to my feet. Complete silence except for a single heartbeat, the pulsing of my own blood, and the water gently rolling and crashing to accompany the beat of my own rhythm. No one around for as far as eyes could see, small schools of fish coming to the surface, massive black ravens along the bank tending to themselves, and thousands of insects silently skimming across the lake. The waters and skies merging into one along the horizon, unable to differentiate between earth and the heavens. We are one and at the mercy of it all.

    Lake Namu in Tibet Autonomous Region and photographed by Eleanor Moseman.

    Lake Namu in Tibet Autonomous Region

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  5. Tibet and Xinjiang

    Until Friday, April 18th 2014, I am making a newly published eBook available for free! It’s an electronic version of “Life on the Tibetan Plateau”. This e-version has an added bonus of the text that was printed in the Brooks Bugle.

    You can download from here: Life on the Tibetan Plateau

    Also, last week a collection of 139 Uyghur photographs were published into an eBook as well. You can download by visiting: Uyghur

    wandercyclist_5193

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  6. The Brooks Bugle 2014

    I have a bit of exciting news for all of you.

    During the first week in Dhaka, as I was preparing for the adventure over the next 3 weeks, Brooks England requested I write an essay for their annual publication The Brooks Bugle. At a coffee shop, under a dupatta and snuggled into a bright batik shalwar kameez, I pecked out a piece that felt as if I released a part of my soul into the universe. It felt good to write, like this, again. It felt great to relive those experiences but at the same time reminding myself who I am and what I stand for.

    The Brooks Bugle is a publication of 150,000 and distributed through shops, subscribers, and each saddle and bag sold throughout 2014 will include one. I’m so humbled by the response to this piece. It was almost 4 years ago I embarked on this physical journey, and it’s been an emotional one since.

    The Brooks England Blog » The Brooks Bugle

    I am not sponsored by Brooks and it was a delight and honor to be asked because of my previous accomplishments. I’ve added the text below this blog post to make it easier to read.

    Currently going through these files from last month, I have a couple of stories that I feel are just incomplete. This is why I’m not sharing them publicly. Sitting here in awe of the people I shared life with in one of the most horrible conditions I’ve ever seen. I’m using all my possible resources to try and find funding to continue this very important work. I’ll be privately emailing folks soon, with a few limited edition prints available in hopes to raise funds to continue this work. This really gives me a punch in the pride, but I have limited options right now. There were so many of you that donated generously to my Kickstarter because you believed in the work I was doing, and this current body of work is equally important. There were so many of you that didn’t want a reward, you just wanted to see me succeed, you wanted to see the faces that meant something to me. My eye and technique has developed so much over the past few years and I feel like that the stories I am trying to tell need to be told. Humbly yours, forever – Moseman.

    (Now we read the news about supposed terrorists looming through Xinjiang. There is no proof yet that Uyghurs were responsible but it’s already been publicized that they are at fault. You can bet I won’t be wearing headscarves around China any time soon.)

    Meet Shabana. She’s an adolescent living in the slums of Dhaka. I went with her to her home where she showed me a photo of her future husband. When leaving Dhaka, I did not get to say goodbye to her because she now works in the garment industry. Her mother was a cook and cleaner where I was staying, so the message has been passed along that I will return and hopefully get to see her again. Shabana was my Bengali teacher for the first week in Bangladesh.

    tumblr_n1vbcdlWfQ1r42zmvo1_1280

    When talking to with young women, and recent brides, it’s not the arranged marriage that sits wrong with me. It’s not my place as a white Western woman to try and change the culture and tradition. What saddens me is that there is no support or therapy for these young women when they fall into depression and confusion after being put into a strange household, a young husband, and strange parent in laws.

    There are nearly 3999 other images I want to share, but I chose this one because she’s a young lady I saw over a course of a few days and I have a bit of an emotional attachment to. She braided/plaited my hair horribly a few times, with me nearly falling asleep in her sweet arms when combing her fingers through my dry, ratty hair.

    If you’d like to be taken off the mailing list as well, please don’t hesitate to email me at e.moseman@gmail.com. I’m a thick skinned gal and can handle it. Also I know how these days we are bombarded with emails.

    ———————————————————————————————————————————————————–

    Text from The Brooks Bugle:

     

    A horizon of 360 degrees, the most vivid and rich blue skies you only dream of and at times standing on my tippy toes thinking I might actually be able to pluck a cloud from the heavens. Days would pass with seeing exactly 2 buses and if I were  lucky a few lorries and a half a dozen motorbikes pimped out with neon colors and a speaker loaded on the back pumping American hip hop. Washboard roads and sometimes jeep tracks that cut through the plateau in the general direction I think I want to traverse. Locals have lined stones along the edge of the roads in hopes to prevent the tourism industry loaded into Land Rovers from ruining this desolate, dry, arid, and vacant space.
    My feet sore from walking, inspecting the soles being worn down in the heels and at times catching my feet dragging. The sun is boiling my skin and I have every millimeter covered except my face and the two top knuckles of my fingers. If I get out of the sun I freeze.
    I have no detailed maps, just some crap tourist map of China, as I never had intent of crossing into the Tibetan Autonomous Region. My riding partner of six weeks, that I had randomly met in Litang, and I had a very heated, abrupt, and emotional break up in a the middle of a yak field days after crossing over. Along with the absence of maps there was also no fuel for my alcohol stove as we had come to rely on his gas burner. I would NEVER find myself to not be self sufficient again.
    Every night in my camp, marking the weeks since I had a shower, I would examine my feet noticing they are turning more and more blueish. My fingernails are pulling away from the bed, my ears are constantly ringing along with the constant “thud” of my heartbeat felt within my ear canal and all over my head. Lying down in my tent with the inability to sleep, hungry, I wonder if this is what it feels to be buried alive. At times I genuinely feel like I am going insane and even avoid nomads because I do not want to alert them of the mad woman on a bicycle.
    This was the time of my life. These weeks and the months leading up to it would mark a major transformation of who I was and who I am today. Realizing how damn insignificant I am in this world, as Eleanor, as a human, and how we all are at the complete mercy of nature. There is no fresh water on the plateau, hail storms can give you a twenty minute warning and beat the hell out of you. Snapping tent poles because of the cold wind blasting at you and there is no wind shield at 5400 meters. Pouring cold water into your instant noodles while you set up your bed for the night hoping they will be soft for consumption in a few minutes. I had to eat as my 6′ frame was already down to 53 kgs a few weeks before and I know it was probably much lower at this point. Looking at my hands I could see the veins, tendons, and bones protruding more than ever before. Catching a glimpse of my hip bones in the tent at night, sometimes I wondered how I even had any strength to carry on during the days. There was NO option.
    I have never felt so free in my entire life. People ask if I was lonely these days and I honestly can say the fullness I carried in my heart kept me company every second. If I looked hard enough along the horizon I could spot a nomad and a young child…or a shepherd woman perched on a cliff watching over her flock of sheep. Finding a nomad gypsy camp and witnessing an outrageous Shaman ritual or spending the morning helping a family of 10 children prepare for a journey to a local market. Life is full of richness and fleeting moments of pure bliss, but you have to keep moving forward, keep taking risks, keep placing yourself out of your comfort zone to encounter these seconds that make up an entire journey…of life.
    With no maps, fear of water supply, I must trust myself because I have no one to help me through this. When you stand on a slight rolling hill on the plateau and you can see hundreds of kilometers ahead with no site of human life, you have to convince yourself there is no other option but to go forward. I’m not going to lie. It was tough. It was one of the most emotionally demanding experiences of my life but I managed to enjoy every second of it too.
    This part of my tour of 26,000 kilometers is one of a few where it was more than just cycling. It was about self discovery, learning lessons of life, and becoming an emotionally and mentally stronger person. Moments that are brought to mind to get me through the days, where I find myself back in society a little over a year after pausing my tour. I say “pause” because I will never feel that it has concluded.
    I watch our society want, and at times, expect immediate gratification and results. Summiting passes sometimes takes days and a whole lot of patience. One reason I cycle alone is because I really enjoy the ride up. I probably take a lot more breaks on the roadside than most and where I can stare out into the beauty of the world and time seems to lose all meaning. There is nowhere to be, no one to meet, no agenda. I’ll get to the top when I’m ready…there is no rush for me and the hours spent on the side of the road thinking and having revelations about life that I will not remember to the next day is what a lot of my tour was about.
    Now it’s very evident this is also how I approach life. At 34 my photography career is just beginning to be something I can call a profession and rely on it completely for income. I received my first camera at 14 and was accepted into a program at 19. As you can see, I’m not a kind of person that gives up and I remind myself it’s about developing a stable and reliable grounding. What person can summit a 5040meter pass without weeks of training leading up to it?
    There are too often times we can’t foresee or predict the outcome from our actions. We must have faith that something ahead will peak out and our hopes and dreams will be exceeded. Holding a steady pace and carrying on while remaining to have hope will take us far. Expectations? I carry none. Adding that to a load varying between 60-80kgs at time could be very very hefty. I’d prefer to be surprised when I summit that mountain that lies distant within  my site.
    When I feel like life is just spiraling out of hand and the switchbacks never seem to cease I put myself back on the saddle and return to the mindset that got me through those years navigating around Asia. I continue to take risks, while trusting myself and knowing there are also millions of people in this world that would be more than happy to help you if they can. Reminding myself I am at the mercy of nature but it will be left up to my own strength and will power to survive, or rather, excel.
    Life sure is like a very very long bicycle ride. I have no idea what the destination is but I sure am enjoying the journey…wherever it leads.

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  7. Life on the Tibetan Plateau

     

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/162255157/life-on-the-tibetan-plateau

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  8. “Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
    ― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

    EMoseman-537

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  9. Nomad woman near Amnematchyen

    Amdo, Tibet 2011

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  10. Tibetan Sisters, Nima Tibet 2011

    Click image for more info on print sales. A portion does go to charity and the remainder helps continue this project.

    Tashi Delay! and please be sure to keep up with what is happening in this part of the world.

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