Sunday, March 24, 2024

Surprising me a memory from long ago

In the early moring, in Boston I come upstairs and !Boom! I see the well trodden dirt path past my house in Swambu, Nepal.   We live upstairs in the dirt floored, no running water, no toilet home we are happy in.  We are in love with Nepal.  Across the path is a nunnery with a high wall; their little terrier type dog commands it and as we walk up to our place,  he runs along the wall barking threatenly.  Up above this live the Russian embassy people whose music delights us; someone there plays skilled piano or is it a recording, we don't know.

All of this is the setting which came to me naturally and in a flash.  I see the Russian embassy man walking down the street with the young Peace Corps woman, his arm casually around her shoulder, the other arm gestering to the heavens, and saying, "We will go to the moon together!"

Tears came to my eyes.

Paradise Lost.  

It all seemed so possible then, the world without war and hatred.  And though we have a space station with Russians, American and Japanese "the world, it is the old world yet" and spins and worls on and on trading goods, fantasies, anger, love, posturings of bravado or perfection,  all the raiment of the human heart and mind. 

And where is that Paradise, which I felt seeing again that moment in Swambu?  

It is, they say, in accepting what is, the world with all it's beauty and suffering.  And sometimes I am there through no effort of my own, but quite the opposite.  Mostly I am struggling, searching, wanting, longing and distressed by my distress.  I have, thanks to Metta, learned to feel compassion for myself and others struggling as I am struggling(tears come to my eyes), grateful for sense of companionship and belonging which come with the full human experience.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

The Medley of Forms

 Like a bolt of silk unrolled

in all it's richness,

Like the South Fork in May,

here a snag

    there a rocky turbulence,

All out of control

    this smooth flowing force of nature,

And is it a fabric 

    a river

        or my mind

that catches on a thread

        splashes against boulders

            swirls round and round

   in the eddy 

before surrendering 


        to the flow?

Friday, February 02, 2024


Sometimes my eyes fill

with tears

of gratitude

for such simple things,

the candle,

the down comforter

wrapping me from the cold,

the crackle of fire 

soon to heat the house,

the hot water flowing 

into the tub outside,

the day's work done,

the spin of the washer 

making the cabin vibrate,

the freedom to stop 

the meditation

and write the poem,

the seamlessness 

of this whole illusion.


Repost: The Sacredness of the Ordinary

 Today was still another sunny spring day although a storm is supposed to be heading in. I decided to stop fretting about water, river cfs, and snowpack and get some work done before the weather hits. I planted the rest of the herbs and brought up some old rusty tin roofing I want to use to make life impossible for the weeds around the edges of the garden and where I foolishly planted mint--a task I will regret again and again. It felt so good to be moving the body, lifting, carrying, digging and hauling and the air was soft and just the right warmth.

So I sat for a while on the porch of the cabin when I was finished. Samson came over and lay down and Fatcat came by to get pets. My sweet companions seem to like it when I return to old habits and sitting on the porch is certainly one of them. I waited, eyes half closed for the sun to move behind the locust tree, gently looking out at light and shadow and early spring and hearing the dog pant, the cat purr, a distant frog and the wind beginning to rise, expectant with rain. 

Then came a long moment which lasted while in the back of my consciousness was a running murmur of tasks done and undone, wishes filled and unfulfilled, hopes dashed and still persistant. But the light and shadow of the day, the familar companions, the sweet air were held and accepted and loved in this very ordinary moment in this very ordinary day while the astounding fierceness of my love of life seared my heart through for a long period of timelessness which itself was bounded by dog pant, cat purr, frog croak, wind chime, light and shadow. I recognize once more the sacredness of the ordinary.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024



A bird sits on the

temple roof

singing its sweet throated



except tot he heart

which hears

Love your life

Live each moment



I go down to the river as I have so often gone, for years, seeking solace, confused and hungry for insight, or just hot and sweaty, wanting a cold plunge into the deep pool.    I sit and stare and wait for quiet to descend.  It isn’t prayer in the “now I lay me down to sleep” tradition because I know no one to pray to except maybe the universe itself, and that at the moment seems too immense to call upon.  

It is the end of summer. Seed pods rattle or hang empty swaying in the breeze.  Rusty colored leaves from the alder already are lining the ground and blond grasses bend and droop in the small path, leading to the water.  The false solomon seal, the poison oak, the berries are all dusty and tinged with yellow or red.  It is the ragtag end of summer mirroring this ragtag end stage of my life.  If the leaves of the oaks are slightly curled and stiff with age or worm chewed, or damaged with leaf spot, so my body has missing parts, is stiff with age, functions more slowly and with less vigor.  This is just the way of life on this planet.  We  deal with it as we can.

When I was young I used to feel this time of year was so sad, the end of summer meant back to school, to routine and to letting go of the wild free spontaneous life surging forth all around me.  But at this age, I realize it is not sad; it is sublimely peaceful.  All that can be, has been accomplished.  The push for sun, for food, for water is finished now and one leaf need no more crowd another.  The plant world gives us this lesson every year which we in our culture so little heed.  Nothing more needs to be done.  It is a time to stop striving and to let many things fall away—time to watch the water flow and see a leaf fall.

Whether this particular body, sitting here today, will feel the wild spontaneous surge of life come forth this spring is a mystery.  This thought floats over the deep peace I feel just as the river’s slow current glides over the deep pools where the salmon lie, waiting the fall rains which will take them back to where they came from.  The depths are not disturbed.  This too is a mystery.   I am here, alive, in the superb and magic stillness of summer’s evening.  I bask in the still warm sun.

And I know that once the world’s hurly burly overtakes me, as it will, I will forget the stillness which is always there.  I write so that if I am too feeble to get to the river, I may at least get to the words.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Racism-my own and others Obama era

 I've been thinking about racism this primary season and how I grew up in it and in honestly still find the taints and stains of programed reaction in me.  I was born in 1938 in a small southern Indiana town which had a Sundowner law.  That is, the coloreds, as the "nice""  middle class people called them, couldn't be in the county after sundown.  I didn't know this at the time.  It wasn't spoken of in polite company which my mother was always sure we would keep.  When we moved to a small town in another county, my mother told me we would get to see colored people.   I suppose she did this to arouse my interest and curiosity and sell the move as I was leaving my best friend Janie and going into a new town and new school where I knew no one.  I have to say I was truly disappointed in the colored people as they looked like everyone else but with good suntans.  I was six.  

My father owned the five and dime store which sold everything from wallpaper to toys.  Ever the businessman, my father always said, "Their money's as good as the next person" It was late 1944 and the war was almost over.  I remember skipping down the street happy that Roosevelt had died.  My mother had told me that God had killed him because he wanted too much power.  

When I was about 8 or 9, they integrated the black school with our school.  My mother said some people said they weren't going to send their children to school because of that.  We were different.  We thought it was okay.  This was before the Warren court.  There were two girls whose names I still remember, Becky and Betty Jean.  By high school, we knew that one was very sweet and nice and one was angry.  We couldn't figure out why.  I had a friend who had Southern pretensions.  Her father had played in the Grand Ole Oprey and she took friends with her sometimes and was able to go back stage.  I,  because I didn't like that kind of music(again my mother),  I was never chosen for this treat.  She and the angry black girl got in a huge argument which Peg told us about.  Becky had said, "You hate me?  Well I tell you I hate you and all white people more than you could ever hate me!"  Peg was shaken and upset.  I was aghast and puzzled. All white people?   What was she so mad about? I wondered.  Didn't she get to go to school with us?  Weren't we nice?  I mean at least I was nice.  I always smiled and said hello.  A nice white person, not like some.

The colored lived literally across the railroad tracks.  One of the high school adventures was to go drive through the neighborhood at night.  I don't remember any vandalism or even any noise making.  It was thrilling though for reasons I couldn't then explain.  They were the others, dark, dangerous different.   And I'm sure we infuriated them by our intrusion.

It was in college that I began to let myself think the unthinkable.  Those were great moments of adventures of the mind.  Maybe there was no God.  I would imagine it and look at the world that way and see how it felt.    And if it felt livable and true, I would allow myself to stay in that mind set and explore it.  I remember reading an essay for English Composition on how misegenation  might be a good thing.   It would give us curly hair, more musical talent  and that was the tone at the end of the lighthearted essay.  I actually thought about these things,  and the unthinkable thoughts  blew my mind open a little.  But it was turbulent and hard to take the ideas home and be met with amused condescension or fear and anger.  I used to have a recurring dream about running away from the Russians or the Nazis or some military force and trying to get my family to all stay together  and someone was always lagging behind, sometimes it was my dog,  and getting seen by the enemy and thus we would run on with me so anxious and trying so hard to keep us together.  And eventually we split apart  and in real life  our whole family fell into disarray and  divorce.

Home from college one summer, my mother went with me to swim at the reservoir.  She couldn't swim and wouldn't have been any use to me if I had gotten into trouble, but I was a strong swimmer and insisted on water on hot summer days.  While we were there, some "colored" guy came by.  He was young and good looking and he stopped and chatted with my mother.  She, in her polite, nice to negroes way, chatted back, and after we left for home she told me he had kept commenting about me, how good looking I was,  what a great figure I had, how she must be very proud.  She was puzzled and a little upset that perhaps something improper had occurred.  I listened to her babble on like I always did, but the gist of his message sunk in.  I started fantasizing about the guy.  My heart even now rises to my throat to think about how much trouble we could have gotten into.  I started driving past the feed store where he worked, hoping to catch a glimpse of my admirer, my hormones on the loose, bored with my small 2000 people town.   He was smarter than I and didn't come out.  He knew what awaited him.  Beaten up, run out of town, killed?  I don't think my father was into murder, but other might have been, who knows. 

It was near  the end of college that marches for civil rights began to take place--1960 or so.  I read "Black like me" which gave me the insight I needed into life in the South. The book was about a white guy who darkens his skin, shaves his hair and goes south, helped by some friends, to mingle with the black community and reports the anger fear and shame that was the life hidden from our view and disabused me of the white story that everybody was happy with segregation.  It seems strange now that that confirmation was necessary.

I had to wait until I was in graduate school to find a lover of color, a Nigerian, Victor Guani  a sweet man and a Catholic who prayed for me which puzzled and amused me, the atheist.  I could not see my own pain.    We got stopped by the Bloomington cops for being black and white together and they took our names.  And when I didn't finish my graduate  courses that semester and wasn't rehired as a freshman composition teacher, they told me it wasn't just because of my grades.  And then of course, I had their number.  They were just like everyone else--hypocrites and liars.  I enrolled in the Education Dept. and they were furious with me.  Called me in and said I needed to make a clean start somewhere else which I eventually did, but not before hanging out with the hangers out who had just come back from California where they said it was fantastic and I heard poetry  read at the newly opened coffee house by Allen Ginesberg and Gregory Corso.  Wow.  It was a message from afar and I left my adopted home, Indiana University, once more disillusioned and set out for the west.  

So it was the end of Barack Obamas speech at the AIPAC that brought back to me the moment when the veil was ripped away from those smiling  clinched jawed white southerners who kept saying that their system worked  and was echoed by all the white people around me, including my aunt and uncle  back from Mississippi.  They swore that everyone, even the negroes,  liked living separately.  Those three names had a world of pain embedded in them.   Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney.    They were my age.  If I hadn't been a little too far on the edge of cynicism I could have done what they were doing.  Having women with the men was one of the rules impressed on civil right workers in the south because southern attitudes toward women kept violence at bay.    

We saw the vicious murderous hatred that ruled the south. And the sheriffs who kept it that way.   By that time there were a few people coming back from working in the south and telling it like it was.  Southern blacks saying it's easy for you to come try to register me to vote, cause you're going back up north to school this fall.  I have to live here.   People had to be ready to die!  And they did die!   There was the dark underbelly of  all the white people I had grown up with and loved including Aunt Helen and Uncle Ray.  All the smiling faces and church going piety hid broken dead bodies and Chaney castrated.  Kurtz said it best  The Horror   My people had done this for years and lied about it.

The point Barack makes to AIPAC, after of course pandering to them(I have been very angry at them for their lack of compassion for Palestinians and angry at all the politicians who parade before them seeking their support and money),  the point he makes is that Goodman and Schwerner were Jews.  He reminded them that  Jews were in the forefront of the civil rights fight, shoulder to shoulder with Afro-Americans.   It was a stunning moment.  Unexpected.   In mentioning that trauma  he touched a truth of the time.  He was given a standing ovation for giving Jews their due in the struggle for equality.  They knew something about prejudice.  The Holocaust was only 20 years uncovered in 1960.    

As the civil rights movement continued Black people showed their anger at all white people and pushed them away--except for MLK and especially after his murder.  Malcolm X  and Mohammed  Elijah and the Black panthers didn't want whitey's help so that whitey could congratulate himself of being "a nice white person".  A rift occurred between the Jewish community and blacks.  I didn't understand it at the time.  The whole country was splitting apart, generations argued and railed with each other, The 60's was a trauma of national proportions.   I was gone out of the country, leaving it for what i thought was forever, divorcing myself from my family and my country.    I hoped to leave the pain of separation and betrayal behind, but of course I  carried it with me  in my travels all around the world, buried,  looking for somewhere to live  "where the people were nice to each other" and realizing finally  no such place existed.

It is the genius of Barack to be able to touch the wound that has so traumatized us.  He is able to speak of what we have been so afraid of that we  have hidden it  from ourselves and each other.  Hearing him remember the connection between  Jews and the  civil rights movement, my annoyance  with AIPAC melted away and I sobbed off and on all day, remembering the wound, my own and the country's, knowing  just the touch and the recognition is healing.  The truth shall set you free.  Whether he will be president  or whether as president he could do anything to further trust  and connection, I don't know.   But his presence right now as Democratic nominee is healing.  It is an opportunity to recognize the pain and betrayal of forty years ago and forgive.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Snow When Jim and Glenn's House Burnt Down

 The last time I remember this much snow is the year my neighbor's house burnt down, in the 1970's sometime.  I don't remember the month or exact year. My daughter Maya was about three and Allan was on vacation in San Francisco when the storm came.  We were living in the small cabin we had built onto and had no phone and no electricity and I had no vehicle.   A normal life in the woods ourside of Hyampom.

I am futzing around in the small kitchen when Glenn comes driving down the driveway and in a voice high and straining for normality wants to borrow some dog food.  "We've just lost everything," she says matter of factly by way of explanation.  I struggle to get out the 100 lb sack of dogfood which she finally grabs and lifts and carries through the snow, talking fitfully about how the fire might have started and what they should have got out of the flames.  "I really hate it about the fishing poles"  "The only thing that bothers me is the boots.  I should have got them.  They cost $30."   We drive down to their house or what is left of it.  Glenn continues with heart breaking regularity to think of some small item she had left in the flames.  They have got their mattress out and the box springs out.  "We're very lucky of course.  But I am sorry about those strawberries I was growing inside."

We arrive.  It is gone.The wood pile is shooting high flames.  Smoke and steam rise from the ruins.  There are only charred remains inside the foundation and the burned out stove and frig and freezer are warped and tipped at peculiar angles, the coals glowing, ashes and charcoal melting the snow around the house a foot or so.  I can't stop staring.

Jim is slap happy.  "It went like a house afire!" he says.  "Look at that crazy woodpile!"  The woodpile is setting the electric pole on fire.  Jim throws snow balls at the fire on the pole to put it out.  Glenn says smiling, "He used to play baseball, you know."  

We feed the animals.  The five hound dogs are chained to their houses  and the cows are milling around the barn waiting.  It is cold and wet and dreary and the thought of going in the house for warmth and coffee is stopped short by a glance.  It's gone.  All gone.

Jim and Glenn decide they must go into Hyampom to be near the phone tomorrow.  Jim wishes he still drank.  "It's the perfect time for it!"  I have to agree.  Snow is now falling on top of some of the ashes.  We are chilled but an't bring ourselves to go as if we might think of something still to do which would change things.  Maya plays on the hay in the barn.  The house dogs are still waiting for a decision.

We go.  They let me out and drive on to town.  It is late already.  I hurredly feed the chickens and get wood in.  Milk the cow.   Maya plays her house burns down.  It snows harder than I've seen it here.  It is another foot deep.  After I'm in bed, I begin to worry that the kitchen roof(which we built) won't hold this much snow.  The creaks and cracks of the wood scare me.  At 1:30 I get up and get dressed deciding it is better to act than to worry.  I take the broom and push 20 or so inches of snow off the roof everywhere I can reach.  Then I sleep.

Each morning for the next week I wake hoping the snow will be gone.  Each morning I find it has snowed again.  Maya yells, "more snow"  The trees drip and hang with it.  It is beautiful.  But it's hard to walk in 3 feet of snow and the trip to the barn to feed and milk makes me realize that if Jim and Glenn can't make it and I have to walk with Maya to Jim's to feed it will take all day.  I plan to take coffee and sandwiches and dry clothes for  Maya and start the walk after an early lunch.  I wake everyday with this plan, feed and milk, get the wood in, cook lunch and wait for Jim and Glenn.  They come; every day the manage, although no one else even tries to get through the drifts.  The house remains are still smoking the first few days.  Maya accepts this routine cheerfully.  I pay attention every minute of the day.  Check the fire, check the food, check the animals.  I milk quickly and put the calf back on early, hating to leave Maya in the house unattended although she is engrossed in her building blocks and Fisher Price miniature people and they are having both burning houses and citified adventures all in good cheer.

The journal entry ends here.  Weather similar to now.  Totally different landscape, infrastructure and population but still have that since of wilderness in the midst of a storm.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Memories of Nepal Celebration


As my fiftieth birthday approached, I kept trying to think of ways I could mark the occasion. I should celebrate my survival, my good spirits, my good health. But how? Have a party? My friends and relatives were scattered far and wide across the continent. Take myself out to dinner and a movie?

How ordinary. As I pondered this problem, my mind kept being drawn like a magnet back twenty years to the time I spent in Nepal. I could see the Himalayas stretching from east to west, rising in waves from the lush jungle covered hílls through forested mountains to end in the snow-capped peaks of the highest place on earth. This was celebration! A  party for myself seemed to pale in comparison to the memories which began to well up inside me.

I was in Nepal during a period of my life when I had cut loose from my
home, my family, my culture and was wondering the earth, looking. I was on a spiritual quest, a search for Shangra-La, although I might not have copped to any of those labels. It was also the journey of a misfit who ever hoped to find an answer for all those mothers, professors, and counselors who had, with a shake of their head, said," I hope you find what you're looking for." This translated into current English meant, "Get lost. I wash my hands of you." or at least that's how it seemed to me at the time.  It is only now, from this vantage point far in the future, that I realize I can say "Yes! Yes, I did find what I was looking for, I found riches beyond compare. I found meaning for the word celebration."

Nepal was opened to Westerners in the 1950's so that when arrived there in 1967, tourists were still few enough that peasants and travelers could stare at each other with equal wonder.  It was a magic place and time. On the list of tourists names at the border, we saw several of our friends names as well as the name of Richard Alpert.  It seemed so right. Of course, everone would be here.

Katmandu, the capital, was filled with the most intricate wood carved architecture. Gods, goddesses, spirits, and imps were entwined with 'vines and symbols, in an endless dance around the cornices and pillars of the buildings. In and around these oriental structures, swirled peasants, beggars, businessmen, and hippies, sometimes walking along side monkeys and cows. Monkeys and cows were considered holy and got away with stealing food from the vegetable sellers when they could. There was constant visual stimulation on a grand scale.

When you are alone out in the world for a long period of time, you give up trying to fit your own culture and your ideas onto the strangeness of
another civilization.  You instead partake as much as possible of whatever the culture you're in has to offer.  Nepal was rich. One day led to another and weeks turned into months.

We stayed for six months. We rented the dirt-floored second story of a house in a small compound hear the Monkey Temple in Swanbunat for seven dollars a month. Our friends were there waiting for us. The landlord was a short and stocky Buddhist named Tara Bir Sing. He dressed in Nepalese style with a Neru cap and white pants which buttoned tightly around the calves of his legs. He was, as they say, a trip. Although he knew something about the world, he still brought us to his mother to introduce us to her and to get her permission before he rented the house to us. He liked to play cards and drink alcohol which was "bad" in his culture, but he kept a shrine to a goddess in his garden and let hippies stay for free in a small house next to the one we were renting.  This was his was of building up good karma. Since he spoke a little English, we could ask him our questions about Nepalese customs and traditions, but he was a man of few words and just as inscrutable as we could imagine an Oriental to be.

I clearly remember three conversations with him. One day, when we had seem workman laying bricks in the yard in the shape of clubs,
diamonds, spades and hearts, we ask him what is happening.
He says, "For my wedding celebration."

"But you're already married!" we protest.


"Yes," he answers.

"But can you marry again?"


"Yes," he answers.

"In the U.S. you can marry only one at a time," we explain.

"In Nepal if after seven years there is no issue, a man can take
a second wife.

"That makes sense," says my friend, too quickly as far as I'm concerned because I'm still considering the situation.

"Bery different," sums up Tara Bir Sing.

Another day as I am sitting in the balcony upstairs, Tara Bir Sing
walks in. He has been cutting down and pulling up all the lovely asters and crysanthymums in the yard which are in full bloom. He
now begins to pull up the still blossoming flowers in the balcony
window box.

I an horrified.  "What are you doing?!?!"

He looks at me without expression.  "Out of season," is all he says.

Once my friend and I meet Tara Bir Sing on our way out of the
compound and stand in the yard with him looking at the hills and mountains which are covered in cloudy mists and rain exactly as they
have been for the past months.

We ask, "Why are you smiling?"

He says, "The rainy season is finished yesterday." 

A light drizzle is falling on our heads and shoulders.

It was into Tara Bir Sing's compound that Michael, a self-styled guru,
brought Richard Alpert before they began their journey into India. They spent the night in the compound before they left. I didn't go visit them because of my attitude that if Richard Alpert didn't come to see me, why should I go to see him? That kind of snobbishness has probably cost me more than a few good experiences. But what matters is that Richard found what he was looking for in Nepal as did hundreds of other travelers, from the Swedish youth afraid of being alone to the musician looking for exotic music, to myself, looking for meaning,

We participated in a few of the celebrations. Diwali, the festival of lights, was celebrated at the winter solstice.  We, like everyone else with
enough money, bought firecrackers and sparklers and took them home. We played music and sang late into the night, the music punctuated by the lights and sounds of the firecrackers. There was a celebration for the end of the rainy season, and one for goddess, Kali, bringer of death and destruction. All of these holidays were accompanied with singing and music and flowers placed in the temple of whatever god's day it was. Nepal had about 165 days a year of celebration so that two or three times a week somebody was always celebrating something.

The celebration that I participated in most was the one for dogs. Dogs in most third world countries are not pets, they are scavangers who have a territory, but nobody claims them, much less feeds them. Our neighbor, however, called the dog when her baby shit to clean up the mess, and it was common to see them hanging around the streets that were used for toilets by the children who couldn't walk for to the fields like the grown-ups. We Westerners were aghast and grossed-out by it at first, but if you stayed there long enough you kind of got used to it, and it all seemed right and proper and you laughed at the newcomers disgust.  Needless to say, these animals were the scroungiest, mangiest, ugliest dogs i had ever seen. Even Western people with their penchant for loving dogs were turned off by them. They are the kind of dogs that would be shot on the streets of America and everyone would breathe a sigh of relief. In Nepal all you had to do was bend down and pretend to pick up a rock to throw and they ran.

But when the dogs had their day in Nepal, these mangy, skinny, shit-eating dogs had flowers put around their necks and a red tika on their
forehead, and their skinny bellys were bulging with food. They were allowed to lie around the streets, their eyes glazed with the fullness of their bellies, without being chased off.  We named the dog near our house Golum after the desire filled character in the "Lord of the Rings". She was just a puppy, and we put flowers around her neck and a tika on her forehead and fed her. She seemed a little embarrassed about everything except the food. I hadn't wanted to touch her because of her diet, but I broke down and petted her. In the evening she came back for more food and brought a boyfriend who we named Gentlewolf since he was obviously a wild dog just getting in on a good thing. The next day it was all over, and the dogs were back to sculking in the shadows with their tails between their legs.  And the Nepalese went on to their next celebration.

The whole country was embued with a kind of wonder that I still carry  with me because of the feeling that all life was holy and had a place in the scheme of things. I can still hear some ecstacy-crazed Nepali singing his heart out as he walked up the street in back of our house.  The kids who had  learned English from the Peace Corps would shout "Englaisy, Bye, Bye," across the grain fields as we walked the path to our home. A military firing squad was led by dancing drummers and a flutest onto the firing range which  practiced night below the Monkey Temple so you feared you would die from bullets as you climbed the stairs to the temple.  In the evenings about 4:00 the monkeys from the temple tried to sneak into the millet field next door.  An old man whose job it was to guard the millet would raise the cry for help by yelling, "Cha, cha!" which means "shame", and then all the neighbors came to help. Golum barked and pretended to be concerned. The Russians who lived  across the cobblestone walkway would stand on their balcony and yell and sodid we. The Buddhist nuns next door threw stones, and young boys came from every direction so that the whole neighborhood was a wild whirl of commotion.  Once after the shouting and chasing and running had scared all the monkeys, and the neighborhood had returned to calm and quiet once more, I saw one lone monkey sitting on the Russians roof, eating a stalk of millet, facing the

It was an incredibly organic system that worked and will continue to work until the values of the west create the conflict that will kill it. So it came to me as I thought of celebration that Nepal's culture was a celebration of birth and death and of life, that mess that falls between the two.  Its morass of street side toilets, dying beggars, the yells of the woman next door giving birth, all the contact with the profound moments of human existence, make Nepal and my experience there a celebration. And though this celebration has sent more than one Westerner scurrying home to his sterile, plastic, glass, and concrete world where birth and death happen in sealed off compartments
where you don't have to see them unless you're personally involved, it is an experience that I am grateful for because it taught me not to be so afraid of pain and suffering and death, and so has freed my feeling for wild, full-out ecstacy and joy.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?