June 2nd – 2015
You guys, I’m in China. I got off the plane and I thought immediately of the butterfly exhibit at the Calgary Zoo. I suppose that would be my stand alone experience with humidity like this. Maybe Hawaii, but thats not what I thought of. I’m almost used to it now, its so quiet where I’m sitting. Its peaceful, I love it. The plane ride was easy, I slept a lot. Of course there were screaming toddlers and infants crying for their feeding, a man that just couldn’t seem to hork enough snot from his nose or clear his throat fully of all the flem. I could feel frustration bubbling up and the constriction of annoyance in my throat and chest, but then I would remind myself – I am a visitor here. A stranger, and these people around me are going home. A stranger in an unknown land. I’m here for the next two hours and then onto my final destination in Siem Reap. I can’t wait to see what its like there, what Mr. Phen will look like, if he’s funny or sweet, or both. I can’t wait to sprawl out on clean white sheets and stare at the ceiling. I can’t wait to see the temples of Angkor.
June 5th – 2015
Just like that, its been three nights since I arrived here in Siem Reap. I’ve been to the temples, I’ve spent time with Mr. Phen. Who is both funny, sweet and knowledgable, by the way. On Wednesday evening I went to Angkor Wat, the main attraction and probably the quintessential temple complex. I found myself overcome. I was alone, which I was grateful for, as sometimes I find it difficult to be in the presence of others as well as Spirit. I entered into the holy space and left at a loss for words. Even now I find it difficult to describe the feeling that washed through my being that night. When I walk, I meander. I allow my intuition to guide me, instead of following signs or deciding on a set route before I leave. Back home, in Kitsilano, I would sprampt down streets in all different directions, always ending up at the ocean, but hardly ever taking the same route twice in a row. I used this same method at Angkor Wat and first found myself standing alone in front of a massive stone statue. The God Vishnu stood towering above me, though at this time I did not yet know his name. His eight arms were broken off at the elbow, stunted branches reaching for the sun. I said a prayer I don’t recall and wandered further in. The visiting hours were ending and men on motos blew their whistles to drive the tourists out. The temples, as you might imagine, are built in symmetry. Where there is one towering statue, there will be another to mirror it from an equal distance. To exit, I walked along a path on the left hand side. I came to a stone archway and entered through. What I stumbled upon was no mistake and an experience that stirred a deep part of my soul. A family from the village within the temple complex were there holding a ceremony and praying before Vishnu, this one with all its arms intact. They held a bundle of insence between their palms and their mouths moved, uttering silent askings and expressions of gratitude. I stood and I watched from the side of the room when I lady who had just risen from her knees handed me my own bundle of insence to light. I felt nervous, and anxiously wondered if I would be judged but I followed suit and kneeling before this holy image, I didn’t know quite what to say. He was swathed in robes of bright yellow silk, above his head an enormous yellow parisol. On the parapet, which he stood, were all manner of offerings. Fruit, cans of fanta, water bottles, a roasted chicken dipped in wax. Each of these were artfully arranged in beautiful patterns. Everything here is infused with intention and meaning. I said thank you about fifteen times, and I prayed that I will never again forget the infinity that is my being. That I will never lose sight of the oneness that is our world. That I will remember that all people are my sisters and brothers. That I will do all things with great love.
I returned the next morning, more than a tad hungover from the previous evening’s adventure on Pub Street, but more on that later. When I arrived I entered in the same door which I exited, with more confidence and assured movement I gathered insence, left an offering on the alter and knelt down to pray. This time words came through me with an ease and vigour, I had so much to say and yet I don’t remember any of it at all. I moved on, through the jungle that skirts the vast and open expanse before the temple. It was sweetly shady in the trees, but believe me, still very hot. As I walked along I collided face first with a silvery, tranluscent, paper-like strip hanging from a tree branch. I looked closer; a snake had shed its skin and left it here for me. I immediately recalled the vision that had come to me the night before, while I lay in my room meditating; a snake slithered swiftly toward me, he entered my mouth and slid down the center pillar of my body, leaving through my root. I didn’t know what it meant, but here I was standing in front of a snake skin hanging in the tree. My impulse was to take it, but I stood there wrestling with myself, wondering if that were the “right thing to do”? I took it, and for 3 hours I carried it delicately through the temples. Soaking in the mastery, the dedication, the ardent devotion to something greater than. One man told me; “a snake skin! Lucky for you.” another expressed the rarity of such a find; “they do this but once a year…” I may have to post this home to one of you, I don’t know how I will keep it intact until I return, I already ripped the tail off while riding a moto. Rats.
The day was most auspicious in all its moments, one I will remember all my life. I am learning. I am learning in every moment. Yesterdays lessons were to seek a higher mind in all things, to end the suffering mentality, to thrive in place of struggle. I am learning to see all things with Spirit’s eyes, to regard everything as happening for my highest good. Even when it doesn’t seem that way, even when its hard. The people here are a beautiful depiction of these lessons, a living beacon and shining example. They have suffered, and they are thriving. They are happy, they are making due with all they have. The poverty is very real, but one wonders how they would fare in the conditions we’ve grown up in. If they would enjoy the wild rat race and endless combustion of life as we know it. They each have work to do, but no one is busy. The children are with their parents, they are surrounded by their family. They are not afraid of a good, long break, of a mid-afternoon nap, of a broad and toothy grin. I am grateful to be here, learning from these people and places that are so new to me. Thank you Spirit, thank you Siem Reap, and thank you Meaghan for being brave and coming here. Loving you so very much. Remember; GRATITUDE, ITS AN ATTITUDE!