© 2011 lefron

Cherry? What’s Cherry?

Two days ago on the plane to Delhi for the first time in my life I opened a newspaper with true curiosity in the happenings of other countries. There was no reason for doing so, I simply saw a newspaper and felt inclined to feel like I was somehow connected with other places in the world.

For the last week I have not been myself. Tired, disengaged, and melancholy, I’ve felt as though I’m simply a mind inhabiting a foreign body. I don’t feel lost; I simply lost touch with my purpose and drive. I chalk it up to lack of activity: perhaps our relaxed weeks in Nepal allowed my body to become physically bored, which in turn (since for me physical stasis affects the emotional) slowed and fogged my mind.

Feeding myself with new cultures has been incredibly rewarding. Not for what I’ve learned (if when I come home you ask me what I’ve learned, I’ll say nothing that I can teach you. Go travel.) but for what I haven’t; there is far too much about different people’s lives and histories that cannot be explained or understood from simple inquiries, like “why do you wear these dresses?” The answer cannot give you the slightest clue into centuries of culture change and tradition, nor into understanding behaviors and lifestyles. Since I didn’t come here to understand, this has suited me just fine. It still, however, presents a daily struggle; a constant feeling of not being in the know, unsure what’s acceptable and what’s not, constantly aware that I am a foreigner.

This has been my label: Foreigner. Before I have a name, before I have a country, before I have a story I am Foreigner. And the longer I’ve been immersed in this lifestyle, the more Foreign I feel. Don’t get me wrong, if anything I’ve felt more alive and prosperous and liberated on theis trip than ever before in my life, but if you know me I tend to blog only to resolve, and pure bliss needs no resolution. Perhaps this is why I reached for the newspaper on that airplane. I wanted to feel in touch with somewhere beyond my isolation, beyond my feeling of being alone, and stretch my fingertips out into the world to feel a part again.

This feeling persisted; I brought it with me to the ashram in my belly like a giant winged creature ready to take flight at any moment. In our bedroom I flopped on my back and stared at the ceiling. “Are you about to cry?” Jamie asked. “Ya.” And I did. Not a sob, but one of those if-I-speak-a-word-tears-will-come-out cries. I didn’t know what had come over me. Anxiety, fear, exhaustion, homesickness, whatever it was I certainly held alot in, and it cotinued to spurt like a leaky faucet all the way through our afternoon yoga session. At dinner I kept quiet and stared mostly at the women around me, all familiar and laughing with one another.  Afterwards Jamie had a massage scheduled, so I went to our room to sort myself out.

I wrote in my diary. I looked at the fan. I grabbed my brain by the neck and said, “Just do something.” So I got up, grabbed my Zac Efron plastered nalgene, and headed downstairs for the evening chanting. Now I have never before chanted in my life. I did not know what to expect, and I imagined deep ominous voices reciting long lyrical prayers that might put my ears in a coma and cause my mind to wander. I entered the room which where once had been lit with daylight and almost mechanical in its classroom purpose was now only lit by a single candle framed with hugging wooden figures. I grabbed a yellow square mat and joined the small group in a circle around the light. The woman who led the chanting started us in the first chant. Timidly we joined along, repeating only four verses in song that were peaceful and full. Calmly the woman clapped in rhythm, her four year old daughter joining in occasionally. Lightly she swayed back and forth, and as it came naturally we all began to do the same.

Chant after chant we became more confident, picking up the tempo and volume into heated crescendos of joyous song filling the candlelit room. Girls grabbed drums and tambourines, and soon we were clapping and chanting like children singing around a campfire.

Not for one moment did my thoughts stray. In fact, I didn’t have a thought: my mind was the words and my body the rhythm. I’m in no way now an advocate for chanting, nor do I feel spiritually changed or converted. But I am reminded of the sanctity of people; the healing power of involving myself in common activity, and the reward of facing a fear dead on.

I’m just a little disappointed that Nike thought of it first.

2 Comments

  1. Mom
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 7:57 pm | #

    love

  2. Mal
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 11:24 pm | #

    I wish I was there with you.

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