This week, on our way into Dharmsala, we caught our first glimpse of mountains towering above us. These are some of the first bonafide, snow-capped mountains we have seen since we were below Rainer back in Seattle. We both took a moment to catch our breath (part beauty, part altitude issues.)
I have long been convinced that the largest thing that makes up a person’s personality is their geography. You can always tell if a person has grown up by the ocean in the cantor of their drawl as it comes in and out like the motion of waves. Or you can tell a person who has grown up with the water always close to them be it a river or a lake in the stillness they have in their breath during moments of silence.
I believe that I was meant to live beneath the mountains even though it is not necessarily the place that I grew up. I have always felt more comfortable in the valley than on the coast. I am meant to wake to look at them above me and fall asleep knowing they’re still there. And that is the feeling here, with the Tibetan monks, a humbleness bellow the mountains, a soft walk in their way of life.
I do not think that means fear though. I would explain my spirituality the way I explain my relationship to the mountain. I do not fear God nor do I think that I could use God as a way to my own spiritual ascendancy. You cannot move the mountain, the same way the mountain cannot move you.
This thought is more clearly explained by physicist Neil Degrasse Tyson when he talks about his relationship to the stars: “the atoms that comprise life on Earth the atoms that make up the human body are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements in their core under extreme temperatures and pressures […] So that when I look up at the night sky and I know that yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us."
When I look up the mountain, I am amazed but not scared by it. I am amazed because the elements that make up the mountain and me are of the same material. We are both star dust.
And so I am happy to have the mountains above me again, if not for a short time until we return to the heat of Agra. I was made to look up at the mountain, not in fear, but in love.