When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name;—— the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Can you remember a moment in your life when you had life in yourself and it was wholly strange and new? Can you remember the moment when you stopped walking a path of someone else, and started cutting your own?
Write about that moment. And if you haven’t experienced it yet, let the miracle play out in your mind’s eye and write about that moment in your future.
It is April, 1995 and you are standing amidst thousands of people in a huge square in Kathmandu, Nepal. You had been with friends most of this time... well, friends for the strange journey that you are on. Before this trip to Nepal (and later, on to Tibet,) these people were mostly unknown to you, strangers from around the world.
The icon you have traveled to to the Boudhanath stupa, the holiest Buddhist site in Kathmandu. This is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike and it is crowded with gawkers and pilgrims walking around the square, turning prayer wheels and taking in as much of the "sacred carnival" atmosphere as possible.
Toto, I think we're not in Kansas anymore...
Fast forward to the present; this trip, sixteen years in the past, continues to shape me more than any other event in my life. Standing alone in the midst of the scene above, I was as much a "fish out of water" than I had ever been in my life. I had chosen this three week journey to explore and to further my learning into the healing modalities of Body Harmony and Conscious Connected Breathing (Rebirthing) with a group of like-minded people from around the world.
This trip changed me in ways so profound that even now, examining the weathered slides that I've scanned (trying to preserve what's left of them,) still stirs up emotions and feelings that must be dealt with and reintegrated.
I was confronted by my life and mySelf. I was physically as far away from perceived notions of "safety" and "home" as I could be. As this all-immersive journey took me to altitudes of 17,000 feet and more, my body convulsed under the physical and spiritual/emotional load.
One day after doing a healing session/exercise in a Tibetan hot spring, I started to shake uncontrollably and did not stop for many hours. They piled coats on top of me in a tent and watched as the pile quaked before their eyes. You could see what it was that was "shaking loose" inside me with the naked eye.
Towards the end of the three weeks, I felt clearer and more alive than I had ever felt before. Upon returning home, the insanity of the "end game" of my then-known life began shortly thereafter. In retrospect, it seems that having gone through such dramatic change in a condensed fashion, you can never go back "home" again. The familiar is simply gone.
I guess that if you are willing be be "alone" in as foreign as place as you can imagine and deal with the feelings that come up (...and boy, do feelings ever come up that you didn't even know that you had!), then "the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new."
Amen, and amen.