Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Snow Leopard

Peter Matthiessen's The Snow Leopard collected dust on my bookshelf for over thirty years until I re-discovered it in February, 2013, two months before departing for an ambitious trek in Nepal. The book describes Matthiessen's sojourn into Nepal's Dolpo region, "a foot journey of 250 miles or more across the Himalaya." Somewhere around page 5, I grabbed a pen and began scribbling down some notes. By the time I reached page 301, I had recorded over twelve passages that epitomized my own spiritual connection to the mountains.

". . . I feel at peace among these looming rocks, the cloud swirl and wind-whirled snow,
as if the earth had opened up to take me in."
" . . . in the tension between light and dark is the power of the universe."
"I know this mountain because I am this mountain . . ."

                                        Backpacking Trip Kearsarge Pass 2012 067 copy
(One of my favorite places;  below Forrester Pass in the Sierra Nevada)
(Photo Credit: Elaine Pike)

Matthiessen writes that his Zen master urged him to "expect nothing" on his impending trek. With this in mind, I departed for the Himalayas bearing "no thought of attainment" for the completion of my Three Passes Trek.  No Expectations became my mantra as I set off on an adventure largely unresearched in relation to most of my travels and with little in the way of expectation. Whether I completed the trek mattered not, for it was the process of completing the trek that epitomized my experience. Certainly, that pledge proved to be and more difficult as the days trickled by, and my resolve wore down. In the end, however, I discovered that the rewards of living in the moment far outweighed my attachment to any expected outcome.

My memoir, Footsteps of Gopal, is for sale on Amazon. 100% of the proceeds from book sales will be donated to the American Himalayan Foundation to benefit schools in the Everest region.

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