Saturday, April 24, 2010


The trail nears an end, but the desire to move my feet lingers on. As my days in Nepal come to a close, an overwhelming feeling of relief and joy sweeps over me. I’ve had yet another adventure, a new set of stories just like a new set of wrinkles on my face. I have become older and wiser. There is no denying it, but with each day my heart and mind grow deeper in love and appreciation for the world around me.
(Kathmandu’s Vishnumati River)
Traveling to India and Nepal was wonderful. I saw things that I’d never thought possible, but mostly it confirmed my faith that my life must be devoted to helping people transform their lives into their dreams. I don’t care if that sounds corny, because it means so much to me. In Nepal, I saw mountains littered with trash. I saw people downcast and dying. I saw rivers destroyed. I saw cities crumbling in dust and darkness. I saw the souls of people crying out in despair. But I also saw such great wonder, joy, and possibility. I will carry that in my heart. It is stronger than the sadness that once lived there.
(Wandering woman at Pashupatinath)
I am going to return to Taiwan now, back to this little island. I am going to go to great restaurants and hang out with artists and run around in the night looking for adventure. I am going to love my daughters even more than I did, if that is possible, and I am going to throw myself back into the classroom with a vengeance. I feel a great weight has been lifted off me. I’ve seen what I needed to see. I buried what I needed to bury. This last year of hardships is over. I’m ready for what is next.
(Beggars and Freaks along Bodhnath.)
I spent much time in India and Nepal talking to the lowly, the outcasts of society. I watched you and listened. You had much to teach me and say. You made me re-think why I am alive and how I treat people and what is important. I don’t know if I can ever match your joy, your freedom, your simplicity, but I will try.
(Tech Savvy Monk at Swayambhunath)
To my lovely Buddhist monks, you also taught me much, through touring your temples and sketching your art, pouring through your books and asking the questions I have always wanted to know. I feel your peace and hope to always carry it with me. But you have made my faith only stronger, more determined. And so as religious people, I thank you for your devotion to a belief I cannot share but inspires me instead to stand by my own.
(Kathmandu Maoist Political Parade, heat 100 +)
While walking about ten miles through the sweltering city to find the main post office (what was I thinking, sending letters to people who probably just go, “Oh Hartenstein again,” and throw them in a forgotten box). I joined a Maoist Communist Party Parade. My brother Grant will be so happy. I know I will always do this. I will be 70 years old and still acting like a crazy man. I have wanderlust in my heart and always will. Come walk the road with me friends, I know the way and so do you. Come, let’s walk it together.
(Monks spinning prayer wheels at Swayambhunath)
I leave you with a prayer:
To my enemies and those to whom we fueled one another with hate, I hold no more ill will to you. I pray for your happiness and that we may meet on the road someday as friends. To ex-loves, thank you for all you have taught me, form your humor and goodness. Fill yourself with joy. I live with you in my memory, forever. To my family, I can’t wait to see you again. What good things we have ahead to share together. To my friends, I miss you so terribly and still trust you with my life. To my daughters, you are my soul. I devote, as always, my life to you. Finally to colleagues and future educators, I pledge myself to the work which we do, to stand shoulder to shoulder beside you, and never flinch again. Amen.

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