Talking Feather Time: The Power of Perspective

Sometimes all it takes is changed perspective!

In the days of far away and long ago I was a volunteer nurse in Kathmandhu, Nepal. On Friday evenings at the American Embassy’s weekly social assorted Americans in town gathered for a movie, a beer, and a social occasion. Someone suggested that we walk to Nagarkot, a hill village, to see the sunrise over the Himalayas. I had no idea where Nagarkot was, or how far we were going to walk but it seemed like a good idea.

In those distant days there were no hotels, tourist facilities, or paved road, just a dusty trail into the hills and a small stone hut where occasional visitors could camp and wait for the dawn. By moonlight we walked through villages closed up tight passing terraced fields of feathery barley waiting for harvest. Someone mentioned that local people believed that evil spirits could disguise themselves as foreigners. The only way to know for sure whether a foreigner was a masquerading ghost or spirit was to check the feet, (ghosts always got feet on the wrong way round). Confident now that no one would mistake us for ghosts or evil spirits we walked on arriving in the very early morning at the stone shelter where we flopped down for a few hours waiting for dawn.

I was aware of discomfort as I woke from my half-sleep. It was cold and damp; the stone floor was hard. The gray shapes of my companions stirred around me; light crept into the hut, but there was no sun. As we made our way outside to behold the mountains thick, wet clinging fog and cloud enveloped us. All that walking, sleeping on the stone floor, only to be welcomed by zero visibility, grey swirling mist and heavy dampness.

It was then, dispirited and feeling the prickly edges of irritation that I changed my sight-line. I stopped peering into the fog and the cloud and raised the trajectory of my gaze. There, far above anyplace I’d expected, the mountains hung majestic in the early morning light, silent, ethereal, shining in absolute purity and stillness. They shone with a clear blue cold light, higher and vaster than anything I had ever seen or imagined, more magnificent than any photo can convey. Fog and the cloud still clung around us, but above it the mountains shone sublime, glittering in the early light.  Astounding beauty was all around me.

The Himalayas from Nagarkot

Memo to self: Stop peering into the fog. Change your perspective!

JZR

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