If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that Pierce and I are part of a group traveling to Nepal this fall to help install a water system in a remote village. We leave in exactly 90 days—I counted them on the calendar this morning. December 18th, and I intend to be ready. How could I not be? The trip is pretty much all I think about these days.
I’ve started the countdown and if you choose to keep up with this blog, you’re along for the ride. In three months our passports will be stamped for entry into a country I’ve dreamed of visiting for twenty years. That this dream is coming true because others have made it possible is even more astonishing. The entire seven thousand dollars the two of us need for the trip is in an account at Montview, with a few hundred to spare for project disbursement in Nepal. I’ve sent thank-you notes to all who donated, but I can’t say it enough. I feel the gratitude deeply. Thank you. What a gift you have given us and the villagers of Mahja Badahare. By the end of the year, they’ll be dispensing water in the village from a tap designated for their family, and Pierce and I will be returning from an adventure unlike any before it…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Tony and I are at the table of friends last November. I’ve been talking about Peru.
“Where do you want to go next?” asks Jeff.
“Nepal,” I answer, without hesitation.
He smiles. “Great choice. I was there in 2000. Magical place. Changed me forever.”
Jeff was on the first work trip put together by Montview. “I’ve heard there’s talk of another one in 2010. If you’re interested I’ll email you the name of someone to contact.”
A week later Tony and I attend a potluck to learn more. He leaves intrigued (his word). I’m ready to sign up. At dinner the next night we tell the kids about it. Two weeks later, Tony announces that the trip isn’t for him.
I spend the month of December separating myself from the idea. I trekked in the Andes last summer without Tony. I promised that next time, we both go. Nepal isn’t likely to disappear. Get these kids raised and out of the house. Get Ali settled in her own place. You can’t leave Tony during the holidays, his busiest season, with three kids at home and out of school. Get over it.
Callings present, tease and grow silent, only to peek around the corner and whisper seductively when they see an opening. Images appear. You hear yourself say something and wonder where the thought came from. The deeper the call, the more relentlessly it persists, like falling in love before you really know the guy. You can’t stop thinking about him despite poor timing, no job and a million other reasons to run in the opposite direction. But you don’t.
I call a friend who went to Nepal with Montview in 2007. She’s going again this year. I’m looking for a comrade, someone who will encourage adventure and ignore rationality. Someone who will tell me to go.
“You know, Rebecca, Nepal isn’t going anywhere. Your kids are still at home. These are years you can’t recapture. They’ll be out of the house before you know it. I’d think twice about going right now. There’ll be another time.”
I stop talking to people about the idea. I have trouble sleeping. I’m irritable. I want out, away from the responsibilities, away from the holiday rituals I haven’t loved since it fell in my lap to make Christmas special for everyone else.
I go upstairs after dinner and lie on the bed with a book. Except for the reading lamp, the room is quiet and dark. I’m distracted, reading the same sentence two and three times. The book falls to my belly. I close my eyes, and it comes. From the gut, through the heart and into the head.
My eyes flash open as if someone had turned on the lights. I stop breathing. I listen. Once more for certainty.
Deep knowing is a wonderful thing. In the moments before the mind engages, before fear and mental formations set in, there is clarity of purpose. The soul smiles; the body waits for instruction. I listen for something more but nothing comes. I breathe. Nothing more is needed. Marching orders have been given. I know what I need to do.
“Sit,” I tell Tony. It’s the next day. We’re in the office at Tonto. He has fifteen minutes to grab lunch. “I need to tell you something.”
“What? What are you up to?” He smirks. I can’t stop smiling. “What’s going ON?”
Again I ask him to sit. I take the other stool, turn to face him.
“I want to go on the work trip to Nepal and I want Pierce to come with me.”
He takes a bite. “He’ll drive you crazy.”
“No, he won’t.” I’ve thought about this. “Without Tess, the two of them can’t escape to their own little world. We’ll be outside and working. No video games or cell phones. In nature. For two weeks.”
Silence. “It’s great,” he finally says, and offers a smile. “I think the two of you should go.”
Tony admitted later that he had no choice that day than to offer his blessing. From the moment I walked into the office, he knew something was up. An energy was in motion and no one was stopping it. Who would want to. The call had come.
And with it, a clarity that manifests so rarely in life that when it does, one has no choice but to respond. To ignore it is to ask for illness, depression, an accident. Fear falls away. Practicality and reason melt. A luminosity surrounds the idea, protecting it as sacred space. Details are worked out later. When the call comes, there is only stepping up and saying Yes.
Thanks to all of you—family, friends and clients—Pierce and I are leaving in 90 days for the adventure of our lives—together. That’s the best part. Stay tuned as we prepare for the journey. I promise to keep you posted.
The object of pilgrimage is not rest and relaxation… To set out on a pilgrimage is to throw down a challenge to everyday life. Nothing matters now but this adventure.
— Huston Smith