I just put wax on my boots. It’s one of my pre-expedition rituals and it serves many purposes. It helps preserve the leather on my boots. It helps with waterproofing the leather to keep my feet dry. It helps signal the transition from here to there and tonight, it helped me relax into the groundlessness of the bardo, the place between here and there. I’ve felt unsettled, groundless even, for the past week and tonight as I rubbed wax onto my boots, I realized why. The bardo. The place that is neither here not there. Not fully here because I’m getting ready physically, emotionally, and spiritually to go. Not there, because I’m not there yet(i).
One of my Buddhist trainings is that life actually is this groundless all of the time and one of the major causes of suffering is grasping for ground and groundedness but we don’t often have the chance to see this clearly. Bardo times bring the groundlessness into clear focus. As I smoothed the wax into the pores, I felt a twinge of excitement for reaching the other side, for getting there, of beginning, of knowing it’s time. I still have a big week of packing, a week of thousands of decisions and good-byes, and of moving both figuratively and literally from this place of home to the place of the mountain, which is in fact, also home. I can be both home and away. Here and there. Happy and sad. Scared and excited. E) All of the above and more.
The boots whispered that to me tonight and for their wisdom, I am grateful. As I am for you…all of my supporters-who have buoyed me when my confidence was flagging, when disappointment was crushing, and when summits were exhilarating. It is such a privilege to share this mountainous path of learning with you.
A reminder that my St. John’s send-off and high altitude trekking talk is Wednesday, April 6 at 7:30 pm in PE 2001 on the MUN campus. I start making my way into the travel bardo on Sunday and start my Nepal adventure on Tuesday!