My second commitment is that I will learn at least one new thing each week about Nepal between now and when I depart for the trek in October.
Why have I decided this? Partly because my journey to Nepal is imbued with a particular sense of purpose (provided by WaterAid). I go there armed with the awareness that but for an accident of birth and the nearly 5000 miles which physically separate us, the people I will encounter have never known the privileges I have taken for granted all my life, including access to clean water and sanitation. In order to fully meet them in this capacity and armed with this knowledge, it is important to me that I learn some of their history and culture.
The other reason behind this commitment is purely for personal enjoyment: to bring the sense of whimsical wonderment to this experience that we all know intrinsically as children. This seems to get lost in adulthood behind layers of pretending we know more than we do, or seeing what we want to see. My weekly learnings might be historical or anecdotal; or in the form of learning a new word in Nepali; or trying some Nepalese cuisine. I am starting by reading House of Snow, an anthology of writings about Nepal or by Nepalese authors and poets. My first learning of this week is that ‘House of Snow’ is a translation of the Sanskrit word Himalaya: hima (snow) and alaya (dwelling).
The first essay in the book is the journal of Major Harold Tillman, an explorer who undertook one of the first Everest expeditions in the 1930’s. In his account he poetically describes coming face to face with this awesome and unknown landscape as the ‘witchery of the unexpected’. That phrase resonated with me on a profound level, as it dawned on me that we don’t actually have to be explorers to see the world this way. We can inhabit this magic sense of curiosity for the unknown by continuing to expand our minds by learning and trying new experiences. In fact, viewed another way, we are all explorers: all we need to do is open our eyes, minds and hearts.
PS – I am putting the link to my JustGiving page at the end of every post – if you have enjoyed reading and would like to sponsor me, then you can do so here (but absolutely no pressure if you just want to check out the content!). Please copy and paste the link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/katesnepaltrek