Visiting Nepal is unbelievably distracting. Some of my friends and family kept asking me if I thought it was a good idea to be traveling right now given the circumstances, but for me it was the best decision I could have made. I am doing something new everyday whether it be exploring a new part of town or trekking through the Himalayas.
It's surprisingly quite comforting being back in a developing country where my biggest worry is whether someone will try to rip me off or steal from me, but thankfully in Nepal this isn't the case. I have felt the more safe here in Nepal than some of the developed countries I’ve visited. The locals are extremely welcoming, trusting and very inquisitive. They just want to get to know you as the sincere and honest people they are. They believe in being good to people and karma.
We spent about a week in Nepal traveling from Kathmandu to Pokhara before starting the Annapurna Circuit. During the first day on the trek through the Himalayas, I really didn't know what I had gotten myself into. It was hard. It was long days of testing not only my physical strength, but my mental and emotional strength as well. It was about endurance. Mind over matter.
In many ways trekking through the Annapurnas was very healing and just what I needed. If you follow my blogs on a regular basis you already know that I chose to disconnect from the internet and everything else. My reasons for this can be found in my entry “Social Media Detox,” but it immensely aided in my healing allowing my mind to be free of the media that blurs my reality and memories. The time I spent outside trekking in nature gave me a lot of time to reflect. It reminded me how small of a space I occupy on this planet, that this life is much larger and greater than I once thought. It's bigger than all of us. On a daily basis we get wrapped into the here and now, always wanting more and we forget to appreciate where we are and what we have.
I've only just finished my sixteenth day of trekking where we trekked over 128 miles. After each mile I looked back and appreciated that I am here on this planet with a body capable of enduring long and challenging treks at high altitudes day in and day out. I learned to appreciate the feeling of my heart beating out of my chest from the crazy altitude and continuous climbing. I listened to my body and enjoyed the feeling of the lactic acid burning in my quads, glutes, calves and back from carrying my pack.
These long days of trekking up and down mountains in the middle of the Himalayas also brought a lot of questions to my mind. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do the nicest people get cancer? Why are there freak car accidents that take our loved ones? Why are their diseases and heart attacks, strokes and plain old accidents that rip the most important people from us in our lives? Why would anyone choose to leave this beautiful planet by their own hand?
People say everything happens for a reason, and I'm one of those people who preach that everything will fall into place, but I can't accept that these things happen for a reason. I can't accept that Jesse passing away happened for a reason. People say it will make me stronger and maybe it will, but it doesn’t make it any easier day in and day out. Some people say he left because he thought that it would make our lives easier and he didn't want to be a burden. He was wrong, life is one hundred percent harder without him to talk to. Others say it's better to have happened now rather than down the road with kids and a wedding ring around my finger. Who knows what could have happened in the future, but I do know that Jesse would have been an amazing father and that's all he wanted in life was to have a family and see more beautiful destinations on this planet. I do not believe he wanted to leave this planet. I do not believe that suicide was the answer, but he had a message to send to a flawed government system that betrayed him in the end. They have heard his message, but it doesn’t take the pain away.
Ever since Jesse passed I’ve wanted the world to just pause because I can’t fathom having to live without him, but the world doesn’t stop. The media doesn’t stop. The continuous demoralizing image of my first love continues to be voiced by someone who is pretending to be someone they aren’t. The media is creating this monster of a man who was the most gentle person I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I have to constantly remind myself how lucky I am to be here and live the life I do. How lucky I am to know the truth and to have the people that matter by my side. How lucky I am to have known the real Jesse and even better been loved by him. I need to push the noise aside and look at the positive side of things, although it seems there are few and far between in this tragic situation.
Looking at the glass half full might seem like a hard task to accomplish especially in times of tragedy, but it’s important to practice the importance of perspective. The way to do it, focus on the power of now, bring yourself back to the present moment and practice contentment. Repeat what you are grateful for. Remind yourself what’s good in your life. Focus on the positives.
As I walked I talked to Jesse a lot, as well as both my grandmas. My counselor said talking to him would help me heal no matter if the talking is angry, sad, hurt, bitter, etc... I don't have a religion and because of this losing Jesse has been extremely confusing. I don't know what the afterlife holds. I don't know where people go and with all this sadness it's hard to imagine that there is a God that has planned all this. But there has to be a higher power or something after this life, right? There has to be something bigger than all of us. The energies of souls have to go somewhere. There is too much energy in one's body to just dissipate into thin air.
People say he's around me and boy do I hope he is because these views of the Annapurnas are amazing. I hope he wraps me in his hugs when I’m fast asleep dreaming of him, but most importantly if he’s around that means I am not a crazy person just talking to myself down the trail. I talk to him about what's happened after his passing, what’s going on in my life and his loved ones lives at the moment. I tell him all of my struggles. I ask him questions and I tell him how I feel. Although I wish he was here to answer my questions, there’s nothing more healing than going up a massive incline sweating and crying your heart out.
I reached a viewpoint one day after trekking seven miles and climbed in altitude of over 2700 feet and I looked out at the view and started to cry. All I could think about was how he was supposed to be standing right next to me. Not going to lie, I did question a couple of times if he could do it because he could barely run all the way around Albert Park, but then I think about his strong build and the stuff he did in the army and I realize it would have been easier for him than me. He’s used to carrying a pack and those strong legs of his would have done him good up the mountains. He would have been amazed by the beauty that surrounded us. He was wrong to leave so soon without a goodbye, but he left with a purpose and a message to send. He had so much more of a life to live and so many more memories to make and this is why it’s so hard for me to accept his passing.
I know I need to forgive him because he didn’t do it to me purposefully. He didn’t want me or any of his close family and friends to hurt like this. He thought it was the only way out and he was wrong, but I have to begin to forgive him in order to heal. I want his soul to fly free and for me to let go of my anger and the only way to begin to do this is to forgive him. It’s easier said than done, but I’m working on it. I will do it for him because I love him. He isn’t here to reciprocate the feelings, but that’s okay. It’s going to have to be okay.
His 33rd birthday is quickly approaching and the floods of emotions that I experience on a daily basis have not lessened, but I will make it through. The memories I have with him will be held close to my heart. He needs my forgiveness now more than ever and for me to keep pushing on through all the ups and downs of life. I need to acknowledge these feelings and learn to live with them because in the end that’s what happens. It never gets easier we just learn to live with what we are dealt.
Disconnecting and talking to him everyday helped me. Being in nature and challenging my body helped me. He helped me through it and will continue to lift me up and protect me from above.
Being in Nepal put life into perspective again. The local Nepalese have bamboo mud huts for shelter. They have holes in the ground for toilets. They eat the same meals practically everyday, but they don't complain. They smile and are just happy to be breathing. They laugh constantly and are entrigued by all travelers. Why are these people who have less than we do the happiest people in the world?
We westerners have it all wrong. We think that material items will make you happy. Yes they may for a small moment of time, but things don't buy you happiness. Money can’t buy you happiness. It's the people you surround yourself with and living in the present moment that fills the heart with the most joy. It's laughing with friends and reflecting on how lucky we are to be alive.
Traveling through Nepal has taught me that life is simple if you live simply. You do not need material things to make you happy. You need enough money to buy food, shelter and clothes to keep you warm, and good company and that’s it.
A smile goes a long way. If you focus on negatives then more negativity will be brought into your life. If you focus on the positives you will start to see more happiness in the world and good things will come to you. You have a choice. You always have a choice.
As Dumbledore says "it's the choices in life that build your character, more so than your skills or abilities."