A very generous Nepalese man I met while trekking in Langtang Valley welcomed me to his home in Kathmandu. I gratefully accepted the opportunity to become more intimate with the locals. Over a cup of tea we talked and he shared with me his views on compassion, which strung a chord in my heart that I can still feel humming inside. This is what he said:
While helping Doreen build libraries for schools in Nepal, she introduced me to a few Sisters at a nunnery who she donates books to. The eldest woman was full of wisdom and compassion, not only for her faith in God but for the people on this earth that she devotes her life to. Something so simple she said could spread like wildfire across the earth and change the hearts of many. This is what she said:
Why fall in love when you can fly?
Two weeks had passed since I arrived in India and I sat at the bank of the Ganges river in Rishikesh reflecting on all that I had experienced. To sit in silence with only the sound of the rivers silent caress against the shore was new to me and much needed. The India I had seen, heard, touched, and tasted was not mellow in any way.
Only one word was exchanged between us, but this photograph captures the words that were not spoken. It is the essence of this photograph that became the first inspiration to share my journey.
"I have a good life. I have everything. I have the ocean. I have my family. I have many friends. I have my friend's families. I may not have the nicest house, but I have a place to sleep. I have food to feed my family. I am lucky. I have everything." -Bonzai (Banten, Indonesia, March 2017)
One connection always leads to another and that's how I met Bonzai, who is close friends and ocLean partners with Ricky. It was no surprise to me that I was also welcomed into his family. Bonzai is a crazy character, always laughing and having fun. He also has a gentle and peaceful side which I was able to get to know as I spent more time with him.
While traveling, people have asked me, “How do you decide where you will go next?” The honest answer is that I never really know. It is more of a calling than a logically researched plan. I’ve tried that before, where I’ve booked tickets in advance, designed a travel route, and had a general idea of where I will be at a certain point in time. These rarely worked out as planned. True and authentic travel has no plan or destination. To create a path to walk before you even see your feet in front of you is to limit yourself from all the possibilities that lay ahead. This is how I ended up in Nepal with a woman I had met for a few hours on a flight from Southeast Asia to Europe.
Every choice I make while traveling carves a new and distinct path that determines what I will experience and what possibilities lay ahead. One of the most spontaneous and unforgettable choices I made was when I decided to leave South East Asia unexpectedly and fly to Europe with three new friends to hike 800 km from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea along the Haute-Route Pyrenees (HRP).
There are many people who come and go from my life. None are coincidental, but some leave a mark larger than others. Ricky was one of those memorable marks.