Silenci Bonica...

Time...illusory and unreliable...barreling or crawling unbearably forward...forever tricking me out of being present. These last weeks have fallen into the former category...days spilling into each other like streams into rivers...becoming a soft blur of moments passed. Observing the rivulets of inspiration that weave themselves through my various creative facets has been sort of entertaining. I'm doing my best to just hold on, as some unexpected momentum propels me...as songs spill forth with the greatest of ease, while my previous impulse to write has calmed to a nearly imperceptible trickle and my pens lay unused, half-finished sketches teasing me. This dance between outlets has caused me much grief historically, but now I watch with bemused curiosity. What next?

I feel like I'm on the grandest ride...rising over breath-taking crests and plunging into and through tunnels and valleys...easing gently back over smooth terrain before lurching skyward again. I imagine those sweet little swallows that so cautiously spread their delicate wings into the crisp Nepal skies for the first time must have felt something like this. My muse is a bit like those thermals...carrying me to unknown heights. I'm letting it take me...learning how to trust it.

•  ...droplets... •

30 April: F2, Bed 2...Middle...2.5'x6' of pseudo personal space. Yep...this is going to challenge me. I arrived a couple hours ago, reporting for Dhamma Service one day early to discover that this centre is a bit ill-appointed... incomplete. 3 Female dorm rooms housing 6 beds each...3 to a side...with about 6 inches between them...the only conceivable place to stow belongings is under the bed. I was asked to take one of the middles as the corners are preferable for meditators and also to serve as a bit of a barrier between them. Yes...the learning begins immediately. I'm here for selfless service. My comfort is of little concern. Thankfully, I'm here before anyone else, so I have a little time to adjust to these truths...time to gently accept and embrace so that all the students observe in me is quiet equanimity. *My last few days in Pokhara proved interesting, running the gamut from losing a full memory card and somehow being okay with it to writing a really sweet song in just 6 hours to finally drawing a proper Nepal-inspired mandala...I'd say my time has been well spent. Today, the world looks bright...feels light...and I'm smiling. All day...sitting...riding... walking...the smile has remained...directed at no one...at everyone...out and in...toward myself. I entered room #105 for the last time at 10:30am and by the time I emerged at noon, another song had come into being, just shy of complete. In my sweaty head the lyrics bounced playfully during each of the three local bus rides it took to reach Dhamma Pokhara. They walked with me the remainder of the way, anchoring that smile that so newly adorns these lips. Now 'Traveler', so new itself, has a sweet little sister...'In My Pocket'. *Yes...I'm ready for the challenge that lays before me....ready to put down pen and strings and be present ...ready to dive headfirst back into relative silence. Excited to learn how serving influences my own practice. Quite honestly, I am in a far better space than I was for any of my previous Vipassanas. Entering Happiness...

12 May: Lakeside once again...exhausted on myriad levels...hot. Midday sun escorted me and my heavy house disguised as a backpack on my reverse trip to Pokhara...leaving me sticky and spent...taking the last bit out of me. Dhamma Service proved challenging in ways I could not have anticipated...teaching me much...pushing me finally over my limit this morning, after all the students had gone. As the only female server, I was stretched quite thin. I did my best to spread myself over 10.5 hours of meditation and the need to be present in the Dhamma hall while making it to the dining hall in time to help with meals. Between making the rounds at 4:30am to rouse sleepy ladies without touching or speaking to them to dealing with ant and termite infestations to pulling leeches and stopping blood...mopping excess water into ill-positioned drains no less than 4 times a day to avoid mosquito population explosions...locating maxi pads and tampons for unexpected menses...rushing through torrential, monsoon downpours to close windows and pull laundry from lines...sweeping and mopping the Dhamma hall entry daily...admonishing and policing students found with books and peanuts and cameras...and any number of other little, unexpected tasks.....I had little time or space for myself. For the most part, I found it to be incredibly rewarding...watching the girls settle deeper into their separate, silent spaces...feeling so proud of them as they obviously progressed...as they sat in determined stillness through their sittings of Adhitthana or 'strong determination'...getting to know each of them, somehow...all 14 of them...who takes her tea black, who prefers sugar...what portions to serve...who takes chapati, who prefers rice...who forgoes evening tea but is happy for two slices of lemon...all their little quirks...their human personalities. Yesterday, many of them were calling me 'mama'...so sweet! And the centre itself.....WOW....I can say with confidence that I believe no more beautiful location exists. It rests upon the crest of a hill above Bengas Lake, flanked by lush, green, terraced slopes, looked after and over by the Annapurnas...those mountains that defy description. On day three, I saw them for the first time as the clouds drifted. I was so moved by what my eyes beheld that I dropped to my knees and cried. Just one tear actually fell, but I have never felt something so intense. Even now...I can't even try to explain the majesty of the Himalayas. I'll never forget that moment...the instant I recognized them...so impossibly massive I might've mistaken their snow-covered peaks for clouds...the catching of my breath as we met from afar... and the clear thought that I have to get closer...someway ...somehow. 'Beautiful' does not come even remotely close to encompassing them. There is no word...so seeing them for the first time while in silence was absolutely perfect. :)

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Tomorrow, I'm heading for those mountains, going to meet those beautiful peaks up close. I'll be out of touch for about a month. If ya miss me, hop on over to my youtube channel and sing along to one of my new songs.

*hearts*