Rumors ripple constantly through the narrow streets and rooftop cafes of this town.
You don’t have to eavesdrop because everyone speaks just loudly enough for everyone else to hear. That’s how we know the Dalai Lama is in town. And Preiti Zinta. And the Deccan Chargers (cricket team). They are all staying down the road from us (everything is either up or down the road from you in this town). Right now we’re at the Pema Thang guesthouse (thank you Jean!),wooden floors, wide windows and a balcony rainbowed over with prayer flags that overlooks the Dalai Lama’s temple and a wide swath of sky and valley. It is a simple, unpretentious room and quite perfect for our purposes. My favorite bit is the terse warning sign on the staircase where it passes through a low entrance:
I laughed out loud when I read that. Because it’s such plain old, good advice, and exactly what I need to hear. So many careless, wasteful thoughts can wander through the regions of the mind when we’re not watching. Even in the short time we’ve been here I’ve noticed how faint, dour tracks occasionally play (yes even in this paradise!). Triggered by very little things. A swarm of flies, a smoker at the table next to ours. The seeming omnipresence of the grubby foreign traveler, hennaed and hopelessly bleary-eyed. Things that ripple into subtler issues— a sudden knot in the writing process, an inexplicable wave of tiredness, a flicker of doubt around one’s own capabilities and progress, a fear of confusing inertia with stillness. Shadows that arise and swirl awhile and inevitably pass. Like flies. And I am learning the old lessons all over again — that this time, like all times, is about watching that dance with quiet, observant eyes.
How much practice it takes to simply ‘Mind Your Head’. And how absolutely worthwhile to try.