Himalayan Memories: Trying To Capture Every Moment

Summer 2007, Himalayas, India

"Sometimes you will never know the value of a 

moment until it becomes a memory."

[Dr. Seuss]

I am passionate about traveling and I could not imagine my life without it. It is my passion in life, to explore the world. It is not always easy though. Today I'm posting a journal entry that I wrote about not being able to enjoy the moment. It took me many years after to finally learn to do so, only recently, after the fire do I feel more equipped to let go and be in the here and now. I'll set up the scene for you. The day was Wednesday, June 20, 2007. I was living in a cave, in the Himalayas of India and teaching English and math to Tibetan Buddhist Nuns in a nunnery. I was ill and homesick, and Alyson (my co-teacher) and I had just finished the last class of the day. I was laying in bed, trying to rest a little before supper because I had been sleeping very poorly.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What I want I can’t have.  I want something in the future, a happiness, a contentment that I can’t seem to find.

I want to enjoy now without worry, apprehension or anticipation of later.  I don’t know to let go.  I fear that if I let go and am just right now, I will lose something.  Maybe myself, my history, my plans.  I want to not be afraid to lose, I want to let myself, ready or not, let go and dive in.


Village Pangmo, Himachal Pradesh

Why, when I am in the midst of an amazing, beautiful and rare adventure am I paralyzed by myself?  Why do I fear life?  I drift through the days, counting.  I count the hours until the next meal, class or nap. I count the days until the next trip to Kaza, the weeks until I am home, the months until I turn twenty-one, the money in my wallet, the crackers left in my room. How much longer until something else happens? Why do I not ask – can’t we stay here in this moment for a moment more? Can we hold off the next mark on the calendar until this day has been filled to the brim with the here-and-nows?  I come close to allowing myself, but then I pull back. I can’t forget this moment, as if all existence depends on me remembering, on me writing the history of my today.

Laughing with students at Yangchen Choling Monastery, Spiti Valley, India

As if me not remembering means it never happened at all and still I don’t record their faces, their spirits. I feel that I am failing at the impossible task of saving all the past. I cannot tell you about the way my heart jumped in my throat when I realized that all people are beautiful and in need of nurturing and kindness. I cannot describe the way I tingled with the love, the unconditional love, the love towards a new teacher, still a stranger, when Dolma fell asleep on my shoulder. How the excitement of teaching Kesang makes me feel, how her innocent face looks towards me with wonder, with love. How does her face look? I know right now, her smile, her silent giggle and I know the feeling of satisfaction when she understands one more math problem, when she feels like she can do it, not just that I’m telling her she can. But you will never know what this eleven year old girl looked like when I drew two stars on her homework. You will only know the library if you see my pictures, but you won’t know what it feels like.

Helping young students understand their assignments in the library

Why can’t I tell you?  Why can’t I put it on this paper?  I could write some metaphors, comparing it to things that are familiar to many but that isn’t how it really was. I suppose you could get an idea of it, but you’ll never really know how it was. Not for me, not for them, you can’t. You just can’t really know. If only you could, then you’d know why I don’t want to forget and why being completely here is scary.  It scares me because it means I don’t need, I don’t need anything besides now.  When your life is based on dates and schedules and plans it is frightening to not base it on anything but Kesang’s progress or loving hugs or beautiful mountains.

Mountains that you can’t understand until you’ve been there, been here and stood on a hill and looked up at the snow capped peaks in all sorts of lighting. No camera can tell you how they look and how it feels to be in those mountains. What is it like when the weather happens below you? How does it smell, how does the ground feel beneath your feet?  When it’s cold, is it everyday ordinary cold, or is Tibetan cold?  Nunnery cold?  Cave cold?  Even if I told you, could you feel it?  Could you understand the way my eyes squint in the full sun, the steps I take?  Is that the memory I should record?  Or should I just do as I always do and write what I feel like writing, what happens, sometimes what I want, what I feel, what I think. Pass my judgments within the confines of my journal, judgments that someday someone besides me may read?  What will you, what do you, think?

View of Village Pangmo and Himalayan mountains from "The Cave"

To someone in the future reading this: did you ever think of me as more, as strange, as however this journal remembers me? Did I break down ideas? Shatter a pedestal? Can I help you know that all people are just people? Can I help you appreciate the flaws? Understand the idiosyncrasies? Maybe even love the horrible? If you don’t love those who are terrible, who will?

Don’t give away your soul for it, your heart, but give away the never ending stream of kindness that is possible to emit.  I know because I’ve seen it, right now I see it.  No, not your now, but my now, my summer of 2007, my 20th year of life.  Yes I was 20, don’t you believe it?  It’s probably still happening somewhere in the universe, swallowed into the stream of all time.

That red dot is a massive zit, not me appropriating Hindu culture.

I can only imagine who is trying to read my thoughts, trying to decipher my misspellings and horribly messy handwriting.  I don’t know who, if anyone, will ever read this, I don’t know if you will be shocked, relieved, disgusted or anything when you read the way I recorded my history, when you read my journal.  Do I have any wisdom to offer?

Footpath between Village Pangmo and the monastery.

At only 20 years old I doubt I have very much to give you in the way of wisdom and experience. Maybe something I did or saw or thought will spark an idea in your mind. Maybe my wisdom is only in my ignorance, in my naivety. You have to steal bits of something from my ramblings, from my childishness. Sometimes I think I know everything, other times I think I know nothing. I suppose the truth is I only know what I know. Even when I try to plan and count and remember, it is all happening now. As time changes so do I and I will never be exactly the same, I can’t be.

Contentment, what IS that?

I just don't know.


  1. kesng on August 17, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    you take photo so good. i am from spiti and i wana to more spiti pics…

  2. Rose L on July 23, 2013 at 5:13 am

    I know what it feels like, and it is hard to describe. I have worked as a preschool teacher and also with disabled children and adults. The feeling I have when they suddenly accomplish something they struggled with is wonderful. To see their eyes brighten and faces fill with pride is so touching. When you can do for others, the feeling received is far better than any monetary payment.

  3. mplanck on July 22, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    This is a beautiful post full of wisdom and the NOW of life. I feel I have glimpsed part of your wonderful, amazing, and vital being. It reminded me of a moment I had some years ago of suddenly being submerged or surrounded by love that spilled across the universe and, astonishingly, my world. A car drove by and loved the people in that car, marveling that I didn't know them or they, me,

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