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Photo by Scott Diekema, Nepal Semester.

Heads to the Trees

This last weekend the older brother in my homestay family, mero nepali daai, went trekking with a group of his friends. A couple nights after he returned we were on the roof of our house watching the day slide away, telling stories and putting prayers in the air. The sky was lightly blotted with clouds and the birds whirled from tree to tree with shrill whistles and darting wings. There was a small lull in our banter and I moved my eyes from the birds to Samyakji, mero napali daai. As I looked at him he was gazing intently at the immense rim of mountains to the Northeast. I saw something in his eyes I know to be in myself, something I have seen in all of my best friends back in Boulder as well. I took one breath in this silent feeling, when Samyak voiced his mind. “Ahhh man, two days ago I was in such a good place…now I’m here.” There was a spite in his voice, a deep longing, bubbling up in a small moment of frustration. I saw his eyes sweep over the dusty smog of the urbanized valley up to the white peaks and green slopes of the Himalaya. I meekly replied, “that it’s not so bad here,” knowing that I also shared in his sense of heart. Brushing off my meager aside, he fell into a reverie. With eyes locked on the mountains he told me about the hike up filled with laughter, stopping often to pray and laugh and breathe. He told me of the hilltop freedom under a blanket of stars. He told how they slept just next to a shiva temple, trishuls standing in salute to the heavens, and woke to see the morning sun poor unto the land. I could see in his eyes he was not sitting on the roof, he was in the dream of the hilltop.

In this story I heard the youthful voice of rebellion, of space and freedom. I heard in his voice the encroaching fear of growing up and felt this in myself. Together, standing now, we looked at the world about us and silently emitted a mourning song. Our song asked why. Our song pleaded that we may hold on to the open sky and grassy hills of our world and of our hearts. Moments like this guide my life, these feelings and questions make me want to live the dream of eternal youth. My body may change, my hair turn grey and my skin wrinkle, but need I renounce a youthful spirit, need I ignore my longing for freedom? I feel that I cannot let myself drown in the seemingly inevitable tide of “adulthood”. I feel that I must continue to gaze at the peaks from the valley floor and know I have not renounced their gifts for a mindlessly inherited duty.