“I believe that through open dialogue of not only my successes, but also my fears, challenges, and weaknesses, I will come to a greater understanding of myself and will help others do the same.” - ARP Volunteer Handbook
February 9, 2015
It’s our day off and we are traveling to a “palace” about 3 hours away for a team picnic. Our bus is full, and the trunk is packed with cooking supplies and food. We make one stop for more fruit and food, and another for this sugary milk fat condiment, kua. And then we just keep driving…
We arrive! But we have to walk about fifteen minutes up to the top. I carry a large stainless steel bowl of more bowls and utensils atop my head because that is the only way I’ll be able to manage. I get a glimpse of what the average day is a like for the average Nepali woman, and how life taxes their bodies. Life taxes our bodies in the States too…just in a bit of a different way.
Auntie, Jessica, Urmila, Suman, and Ritesh immediately get to work. They are all speaking Nepali and moving quickly. I’m not sure what is happening, but I want to help. I assist with washing and prepping the vegetables. That I can do without much communication.
We walk down to the “sink” about 100 meters away. The ergonomics are not the most ideal for our bodies, but there is so much beauty in the scene that it doesn’t matter. There are five of us squatting around this stone sink. We are washing a five liter bucket of tomatoes, julienning daikon, and slicing onions, all against a backdrop of mountains, trees, blue skies, and the clear horizon. Though Urmila and Jessica are chatting away in Nepali, we are all still there together, working together, creating a meal together. It’s just…great.
"DUDH CHIYA!" Ah, the milk tea is ready. We’ve had so much milk tea since arriving, and this is probably the best yet because it was made over a campfire and because it was made with all of us there!
Then we have our bacon egg sandwiches for breakfast! Whoa is right. We are all feeling protein deprived, and this is certainly a treat.
As we clear the plates, I see Auntie preparing a giant pot of beans. “She’s cooking more?” I ask Tiffany. “Yeah, lunch” I thought the sandwiches were lunch! Nope. There will be more, much more. So, while we digest before lunch, we go for a walk and tour of the palace.
I’m sitting atop a stone wall where cannons were once placed, looking out into the horizon.
I didn’t intend to, but the space was calling. I find myself in lotus position.
Tell me the secret.
My eyes softly close.
Wind brushes my skin. Do I go with the flow- with the wind, and let it carry me? Do I stand like bamboo and find flexibility? Do I stand like an old thick tree and stay as still and strong as can be? Tell me.
Then the wind stops. I feel the sun warm my neck and back; it envelops my heart. The sun nourishes me. It lets me grow and be loved.
My spine is straight, my shoulders are back, my eyes closed, and my heart is open. I hear footsteps and wanted to open my eyes and break away from this moment…but don’t. Its not like I feel danger, just don’t want to be seen like this. But if I open my eyes, will I be shaming myself? Won’t I be illustrating that I am not good enough – for this love I am receiving and worthy of?
Why am I here?
If I can’t receive, how will I give? How will I become the practitioner I want to be – my whole purpose for this trip? I want to be the practitioner who not only who treats with competence but more importantly with care and compassion.
Hmm maybe that is what I needed – to know that I am worthy of love and compassion, and to forget all that bullshit and questioning of the pathway – whether or not I am on the right one, or doing the right thing. It doesn’t matter in the end. In the end, it all boils down to love and compassion (how many times can I say those words?) Cliché? Maybe. But so true.
From slicing vegetable with friends to my own meditation, there are many ways for me to practice. I’ll grow as a practitioner. I’ll grow as a person. - Debbie Yu