Had some thoughts while trekking Everest Base Camp that I thought might fit in on here.,
As we reach the peak of the ridge just before Phortse drops out of sight, we hear the mournful wail of a conch being played, shortly joined by the droning of prayer being offered. We look back and see a plume of smoke arising from a small hut in the village, jasmine incense burned by a monk and offered to the gods. The funeral for the Sherpa who died at Everest Base Camp is under way.
The tenuous hold each of us has on the safety line of life is brought fresh to my mind, as I turn away from the funeral and glance beyond my path winding around the mountain and view the monumental drop awaiting a single misstep. The fragility of life in all forms – hiking Everest, driving a car, eating unhealthy foods – weighs on me, although I do not so much fear for my own safety as for the pain and suffering my loss would bring those I love. This fragility, the very brevity of our time on this planet, of our limited time with each other, is cause for celebration – a sharing in time of each and every moment spent together. From daily routine, which tends to dull our adventurous sense and resign ourselves to rote and uninspiring duties, up to the moments we save ourselves for – vacation, retirement, completing our life goals – each day we have in this life is cause for celebration.
Life has an amazing way of replicating itself. But, as you can see in the budding of a new young forest in the clearing caused by the felling of the ancient oak, the loss of a single life – indeed, nothing in this world – can be measured independently of the effect it has on everything around it.
Were it not for ugly breakups, which, measured on their own, cause much grief and heartache, I would not have struck out of my routine, getting into the habits and extensive travel that now define me more than anything from my former life/self. I would still be gazing out in fear and awe at the world, like when my brother first went white water rafting and I thought him insane(ly brave). Now I realize that few things are more difficult than they seem (this trek for example), and, taken one day at a time, you can accomplish more than your wildest dreams when your heart is in the right place.
Every cloud has its silver lining, a truer statement has never been spoken. It is what you do with the love, the emotion, and the inspiration from any such loss that truly determines the course of life and the end result of tragedy. Like the sun offers nourishment to the seeds lying dormant for so long beneath the oak, focus your energy on positives in your life and nurture them to grow and take new shape. Take your pain and loss and turn it into something great. Help those less fortunate. Travel and learn something about those whom you don’t understand. Build a school. Donate to those who are already doing so. Start a project in a foreign country (or right at home!) to improve life for those who cannot improve life for themselves.
Foster positivity with all the negative things you are feeling. Foster life when you feel there has been a loss. Work sustainably to improve life on this planet in whatever way gives you release. Take your pain and invest it into a positive project, for yourself or others. Learn the ukelele. Help build an earthship. Volunteer at an orphanage or in the palliative care ward at a hospital. Spend time at the ocean. Exercise regularly. Eat well. Challenge yourself. Live somewhere new. Use your raw emotion as fuel to improve the state of the world, no matter how small in magnitude.
Your raw emotions give you power, but what you choose to do with that power could mean the difference between a tragedy and a miracle.