asia retrospection

a seven hour bus ride passes in a flash as i organize music and photos
accumulated from my last few months in taiwan
as i realize i am preparing to leave, suddenly everything becomes
absolutely precious, and life accelerates
i haven't fully engaged in my daily practices ever since i bought my
ticket to return to the usa
life has felt nonstop since then
i don't regret any of it
i am grateful for all the movement and excitement, and all the beauty
of my myriad friendships
and i am ready for a week of rest- most likely i will be running
around getting adjusted to my new home (where in ithaca?), and then
breathing deeply thru some quiet peaceful solitary moments before the
new storm
storm of information, new community, new landscapes, new experiences
passing through new york city, i remembered taipei- the largest city
in taiwan, the capitol city of taiwan, my home base for the past 2.5
years in asia
"i thought you wouldn't come back," said brenda, "you sounded happy there."
watching the city people speed walking around, i remember the city
noises, smells, and bustle
the feeling of home, settledness, and community that i experienced by
the end of my time in taipei feels similar to the community feel that
i weave around myself in an eco-village, or any other community
it's not the city or the country
it's what i choose
looking through all these photos and listening to various sound recordings,
i feel glad to have returned to the usa
the question keeps returning:
why did i leave
why did i return
what did i learn
what did i bring back with me
what lessons am i continuing to learn
how have i changed
how have i remained the same
and what now
in many ways, i feel like i have taken a long break
and now i am resuming my life where i left off
i came back to ct, back to my family here
and in ma too
though i haven't visited vt yet, i know i have family there too
and now for new family in ny
i was contemplating herb school even before leaving usa
and now time for this
and all the learnings of 2.5 years of asia travel will more greatly
inform my life choices
i feel more "mature" and strong and grounded
i also feel older
2.5 years have taken their toll on my bones: i no longer jump off
walls and take off running
i carefully crawl down
i still feel scared to confront uncomfortable issues
but i am more honest now
i feel a nagging sense of exhaustion
is it over fatigue from travel
or just unintegrated experiences weighing on me and erupting yawn
after yawn from my mawing mouth?
"you seem stronger," says kari. i feel it
i feel a mountain rising within me
how to integrate?
keep writing chinese letters back to taiwan friends
practice writing chinese articles regarding the herbal medicine i am
learning here
stay connected with my blood and other family in taiwan
teach yoga
stay strong in my personal practices of yoga, pranayama, zifagong
give massages
practice acupuncture point location via acupressure and meridian
scraping and moxibustion on myself and others
chop wood, carry water
in taiwan, chop wood, carry water
in usa, chop wood, carry water
everywhere, same same.
but different.

some powerful/beautiful/life-changing life-affirming heart-opening
moments over the past 2.5 years of asia travel:

- 3 months taiwan -
- birthday camping in wulai mountains with uncle, watching shiny
silver fish swimming from high on cliff, jumping into ice cold waters
and screaming in delight at beauty of frigid emerald green pure
taiwanese deep mountain rivers
- celebrating chinese new year with family
- watching new years fireworks from rooftop, 13th floor
- visiting tayal tribal folks with taymu watan in wulai mountains

- 3 months china -
- practicing yoga on shenzhen rooftop in morning silent stillness
- dancing with hundreds of people in park with kendal and laughing
- folk dancing with frederik late night in park
- biking through endless muddy paddy fields with indier staff, pre-students
- my last group of students, just watching their bright faces and
listening to their stories on train ride home, all in same cabin,
laughing and sharing

- 3 months thailand -
- reconnection with old college friend sab in bangkok, near river
filled with floating lilies
- studying massage with guy and muay, biking into and around chiang
mai, daily massages
- permaculture studies at tacomepai with sandot, tadam, damien, and
family in the edible jungle garden where you throw out mango seed
after eating mango and after a few days, mango grows
- morning hot spring motorbike visits with damien
- swinging machete thru forest, making bamboo baskets and ties with
mountain folk, warming fires, bright green snakes, bamboo rice, native
- wet, cold, weak, hungry, mosquito bitten 4-day fasting in hammock in forest

- 5 months taiwan -
- finding family: tara, ah ji, ah fu ge, marina, etc
- my sit spot behind ah ji's house at river and stones (ah po tan) in
yangmingshan mountains
- spending half week in mountains, half in city
- struggles and inspiration in acupuncture class and clinic
- sacred silence after my final performance piece for teacher wu's
body-theater dance class and every amazing class, learning how to
"fly" our bodies
- sacred mountain time camping at taroko for birthday, river adventures

- 4.5 months india -
- my sit spot near river in kerala, playing flute, swimming, watching
sky and birds and reflections and bananas
- the first rain, right after training finished- dancing, celebrating,
running, singing through rain, watching river
- sharing heartsong bird story for graduation ceremony for the second
training, sacred silence after
- singing sacred songs with babu and feeling spine tingles
- laughter, comraderie, connection, delight during song sharing
circles in my room, echoes bouncing off walls
- camping in aum aumma cave above tiruvanamali, sacred silence solo,
final night group celebration/ sacred improv and bhajan music echoing
in cave
- laugher yoga with rumi and friends on big rocks late at night after
visiting sadhu's pool, back to temple
- deer park: tinkling bells, prayer flags, winds, stars, milky way,
himalayas, endless treks, waterfalls, sacred river, sunset rooftop
songs with lingjia (my best friend there and soul-brother), teaching
lamas yoga and english (i love my crazy lama students), laughing
endlessly, meditating in sacred temples, sleeping under stars, roaming
with hairy himalayan dogs, feeling so strong, healthy, happy, peaceful

- 1 month nepal -
- jumping wall out of temple to visit lingjia, share stories, laugh,
jump wall again, pretend to be a good meditator, count mosquitoes
- recovering from toe infection thru diverse medical explorations

- 1 month china -
- beautiful yunnan province and kindness of friends of friends, tea parties
- unexpected connections in shanghai, laughter yoga, yoga students
turned best friends
- river time under wudangshan, visiting daniel

- 6 months taiwan -
- deepening body-mind-spirit connection practicing 5 hours daily of
zifagong chigong (spontaneous chigong) and expanding awareness and
perception, refining my senses in monastic environment
- sharing heartsong bird story in chinese, getting audience to sing,
sacred silence afterwards, "you brought me to tears" feedback
- teaching chakra yoga and vocal opening classes- i love teaching, and students
- sharing taiwan and chigong experience with ma and sister
- wrist surgery heartbreak, struggle, and community support
- sacred connections with community all over taiwan: my zifagong
community, mountain community, dance community, and local community of
larry, marina, alex/yulia at end

this was a quick summary
that tries to condense 2.5 years of magic into a smallish collection
of experiences
looking back at my asia travels, even my most recent travels back into
california and new england...
every moment is so precious
i remember a particular experience
when i first landed at deer park institute (a converted temple) in
northern india
that night i climbed up to the top of main temple to watch sunset
on nearby building, i see one other person. he sits in the shadows,
playing guitar
wind blows over a few strands of music
and i love the ethereal improvisational tingly tangly melody
half of me is tired, shy, wary
half of me really wants to go connect
"just go," whispers my adventurous, knowing, self, "you only live once"
and so, i went
and every night afterwards we made music together on rooftop, he with
guitar, i with vocals or flute
and we became best friends and travel partners
whenever i feel too tired to adventure or too lazy to try something
new, i am reminded of this experience
and how taking a chance and saying "yes" to the unknown, infinite
possibility, slight danger of anything happening
leads to surprises that gives me cheek-aching endless ear-to-ear
smiles that radiate from heart to eyes to face and all the way out
into universe
and so, i make my leaps
saying things i wouldn't have said before this trip
looking people in the eye when i'd rather shy away
and walking out into the dark night to jump on the trampoline when
half of me would rather be sleeping
take chances
say yes
delight in each moment
on the last leg of my all-day triple-connection flight from los
angeles to new york city, i sat next to a young man from punjab area
of india
he bobbed his head and his shoulders went up and down as he enjoyed
his music on headphones, fingers tapping on legs, feet moving, entire
being engaged with the music
as we prepare to take off, he flattens his hands against his legs,
lips pursing into a "shhheeeoooo!" sound
i mimic his movements, and he looks at me and nods, smiling (no
self-consciousness whatsoever)
"this is my favorite part of flying," he says, hands dipping down
along his run-way leg and taking off into the air
tracing miracles in the air
i agree, "i love taking off... and landing too.
there's something magical about leaving the ground, and returning again."