So I went off the grid for a little while there. We had planned to do a 10 day Vipassana retreat. We both have done one before and figured it would be a nice way to ground ourselves before really diving into this trip. I don’t think it actually did that, at least not in the way I had hoped it would. I won’t get into the details of my experience right now because I’m still processing the whole thing and I’m sure there is a future post brewing about this. But one theme that did come up– that always does come up with Buddhism– is change and uncertainty.
One of the dharma servers agreed to give us a lift to the nearest town. He pulled up in his pickup truck and the two of us piled into the bed. It was still early, as we had been getting up at 4am for our morning sits, so by the time we left the center, it was merely 7am. Something about the filtered morning light, the chilly air, the incredibly green and lush backdrop and the silliness of riding in the back of someone’s truck (something I haven’t done since Honduras) filled me with excitement. Or maybe it was just that I felt the freedom of escaping the scary solitude of my mind.
During the retreat I struggled with doubt. I doubted my decisions– I wondered if leaving LA was the right thing to do or if it would be something I’ll regret at some point. I doubted my path and I felt really shaky about my direction. There’s not even really much more to say about it except that I was glad when these things finally passed and I was in the back of that truck waving at local kids who ran after us shouting “Thank you! Hello! Thank you!”
We hopped out of the truck at an intersection in a nearby town and caught a mini bus to Sangklaburi.
The bus seemed to be held together by rusted metal and magic.
The road was windy and we went over countless mountain passes. Every so often we’d shift gears and the whole thing would shake as it made its way uphill, shuddering and sighing until we reached the top. Yet for a moment there’d be a break in the trees and we’d get this amazing panoramic view. On the one side: mountains that sprung from nothing covered in dark green trees and speckled with small, colorful Buddhist temples. On the other side: a horizon that seemed to be endless; lake fading into mist and clouds. Then we’d continue on sputtering and jolting down the other side.
That’s kind of how we move through life though, right?
Just sputtering and shaking up and down. Doubting ourselves, doubting our decisions, doubting the very things that hold us together– the things we are made of. But every now and again, if we pay attention, there’s the unanticipated view that makes the whole trip worthwhile.