In Part 1 which began my journey toward letting go, I’d come to the realization that to move forward I would have to release some of the things from the past I was holding onto.
When I finally landed in Kathmandu, the most foreign city I had ever visited, after six months of planning, my own welcoming committee greeted me. Five men with white scarves draped around their necks and flower leis dangling from their arms like bangles pushed toward me.
As some gathered my bags, one stepped forward to welcome me. He placed a prayer scarf and lei around my neck and gave me a big hug. Bobby. He briefly explained the scarves had been blessed for good luck.
I was exhausted and exhilarated. We jumped into awaiting mini-buses and I was whisked away to a hillside resort. On an outdoor patio, we ordered tea and momos, a local specialty…chicken and buffalo dumplings. The beauty of the gardens filled with hanging vines and fragrant flowers reminded me of photographs Gary had taken in Vietnam. I knew he was not here with me, but I was surprised to find I was okay with this.
As I accepted a buffalo momo and bit into the new experience, I felt pleased with myself- for the risks I was taking, for moving toward life and out of the darkness of my aging grief. When I could no longer hide my yawns, Bobby sent me to my room. I had traveled to this far off place but it felt like I had come home in a way – to a friend whose face I had not known until this day but whose heart I knew well…and to myself.
The days following were filled with new faces, strategy meetings and outings for the film crews’ provisions. I learned to navigate the rutted red clay roads and dodge the spit of the local men who seemed to constantly need to rid themselves of one bodily substance or another.
Each arrival at the trekking office was a joyous occasion. Greetings of folded hands and namastes peppered my path. I happily returned the acknowledgment – my higher self honors your higher self. Once inside, I was greeted with a cup of the most wonderful lemon tea, so sweet and thick I could almost bite it. I still long for that tea.
Bobby called our trekking coordinator over. In rapid Nepalese, Bobby explained something to Dawa, a thirty-something local. Bobby’s large brown eyes and expressive hands communicated the importance of the mission. As Bobby shared his intentions, Dawa retreated into his chair shaking his head, no. Though I could not speak the language, I could tell he didn’t agree with the plans of my spiritual guide.
The next day, Bobby explained to Dawa, a driver would take me to Boudhanath, the largest Buddhist temple in Kathmandu. The Stupa, with the eye of Bhuddha painted on each of four sides, rises high surrounded by one hundred and eight prayer wheels and thousands of prayer flags flapping like colorful birds’ wings in the breeze. At an altar dedicated to endings and new beginnings, I would leave the ring.
The plan seemed a source of concern to my new friend, Dawa. Though Dawa had been raised in Kathmandu, he was familiar with American life and with the rituals of marriage. He knew the ring was imbued with the promises, hopes and dreams of a young couple made on the their wedding night. Dawa had a warning for Bobby to deliver.
“Tambre,” Bobby began, “you do understand that once you place the ring on the alter it is no longer yours and it will travel to whomever and wherever the gods decide.”
Someone could take the ring from the altar. Dawa wanted me to know in western terms, it could be “stolen.” But I was not defining this moment in western terms. The message to bring the ring to Nepal was so strong I did not doubt this was the right path – for the ring and for me.
Control is an illusion. Thinking we are in control can give us a false sense of security. We cannot control the actions or thoughts of others. We often can’t control circumstances in our lives. What we can do is be aware of our thoughts and actions and make conscious choices.
Particularly for cancer survivors and caregivers, the loss of control can feel profound…and within that it is possible to find the power of letting go. Read Part 3 ~ Faith, Love & Letting Go ~ as my time in Kathmandu comes to a close.