Today our little travel group had an organizational meeting. We debated on departure times for the drive to Paris, discussed the importance of granola bars, weighed the pros and cons of raincoats versus umbrellas, and set a time for visa application en masse. We joked about monsoons and the importance of foldable stools, considered the appropriate ratio of Euros, dollars, and Nepali rupees to best get us through customs and from the airport to the hotel, and mutually wondered when our travel agency was actually going to make us pay for their awesome services. We planned, we laughed, we parted ways.
We never once even posed the question, “What will we do if it’s not there?” If the cremation that we’ve put all this effort planning to be present for winds up being some where else.
In the end, there’s not really any question. We go. Whether or not the body is there, whether or not the fire and ashes and ceremony are there, the blessing is there. Blessing is in the flexibility of mind that we develop in adapting to impermanence, in the confidence and stability we gain by following through on a commitment even when the context changes, and in the trust and peace we nurture by turning upset and uncertainty into practice.
This is pilgrimage, whatever lies on the other side of the road.
**This post is part of a larger project culminating in a week of creative journalism in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal chronicling the cremation of the Tibetan spiritual master Shamar Rinpoche. To find out more or make a donation to this project, go here.