Finding Nemo

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Dipu explaining the situation
I am staring at what counts for a sunset in the Himalayan foothills.  The only indication is a cloud taking on a golden hue, and the green hillsides turning a darker shade.  I am depressed.  My decision was made for me.  An avalanche on the ABC trail ahead has caused the path to be covered with large boulders, impassable by a horse.  And so, my trip is nearly over.  Tomorrow I will descend back to the road, and the next morning I will be in Pokhara.

But at the moment, I am still up here, in the hills.  Its very quiet, just a few birds chirping.  Off in the distance, far away, Annapurna III is barely visible.  Its top is glowing from the sunset, taunting me.  "I am putting on a show right now, too bad you won't see the real thing."  I will be back for sure, but now I feel ... strangely alone.

Its weird, deep down I knew all along I wouldn't make it.  But for some reason its different when you finally face up to it, only then does it become real.  Only then do you have to deal with the emotions.

Of course, it wasn't really a defeat.  It was a fantastic trek, I am at this moment staring at Annapurna South overhead.  I spent a week in nature, away from the city, reading, roaming the forest, watching brilliant sunrises over white peaks.  For me, being in a place like this is the greatest feeling in the world.  Its a chance to get reconnected with your soul.

But sometimes it feels good to feel bad.  You have to let the emotions happen, roll over your mind.  So in a way I'm enjoying the depression.  I haven't felt it in awhile, this kind of loneliness.  I've been too busy.

A woman I think of as a soul-mate broke off contact with me right before I left.  The relationship was going nowhere, even though I really liked her I kept her at arm's length.  A couple days before I left, she said something that stung deep.  "You've been alone for too long.  You enjoy your loneliness."

I thought, "That's not true!  I want, no I need, someone to share my life with."  But she was right.  I suppose I do enjoy being alone.  Maybe I've gotten used to it, maybe its become a habit.  Its easy to be alone.  Noone to fight with, I go where I want when I want.  Dinner is a fun decision, not a compromise.  Flirting with a strange woman is guiltless.

But in my mid 30's, the fun is not what it used to be.  Going out to a club reminds me of a bunch of new music I bought when I first moved to LA.  At first it was fresh and shiny, just like my new life.  But now I'm bored with it, those songs don't fill me with anticipation of a night out.  They only make me feel out-of-date.

The last time I came to Nepal, I had come from Thailand and was still a little burned out.  I had done nothing but party just as if I had been back home.  Why I was traveling at all?  And then Nepal changed everything: I found something I didn't even know I was looking for.  During the morning hikes I marveled at the stupefying scenery, the Buddhist stupas, the fluttering colorful prayer flags, feeling small and yet interconnected with the universe.  In the evenings I read the Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama, and even though I didn't quite realize it at the time it changed my perspective on life.

So its quite strange to find myself back in Nepal and instead of feeling cleansed and energized, I feel like an old empty sack.  Life is strange, but one thing I am learning about travel is that you can never go back again.  You can never recapture the magic of that first time in a new place.

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