And Sometimes, What You Think is a Curveball is Actually NOT a Curveball, at all

And then everything fell into place.   As I mentioned in my last post, our travels to Asia faced a snag. Cancelled flights, changed planes, all kinds of details I won’t bore you with….I wondered aloud at the fruitless attempt to travel around the world to miss a conference.

The thing to always keep in mind is that my intrepid friend and host in Bhutan, Namgay,  moved earth to get Halle, Natascha, and I on a plane to Bhutan….the chances of that happening, hundreds to one….and yet we fly our way to Bangkok, ready to take a July 2nd, 6:30AM flight to Paro.

I cannot say enough about being patient and letting the world work its magic….maybe not magic, but at least trusting that what can happen will happen with the right pieces falling into place when it needs to.

I’m also thankful to have friends and colleagues around the world who work for each other’s benefit….I think THAT is the real globalization; a world in which we are in it together….OK sure, maybe I am being sappy right now (after about 2 hours of sleep in 24), and I’m a big believer in the power of people to make a difference in the lives of each other.  Maybe that’s the lesson from this silly little experience…one that certainly doesn’t measure up to any real scale of difficulty….AND I do think what we experienced is worthy of acknowledgement.  Let’s just chalk it up to Namgay, a remarkable human being on this planet.

Still more to come….

Sometimes the World Throws a Hard, Fast Curveball

So yesterday started like any other international travel day: very little sleep the night before, dragging out of bed, shower, shampoo, shave, gradually make your way to the kitchen only to just remember that you forgot to pack that one thing that you said you cannot forget….only you did, so you go find that thing, bring it back to your bag, carry-on, or other particular piece of luggage (and I mean that word, luggage as in “to lug”).  Then you get a little nervous; you pace, or fidget, check for your passport, documents (again), now look at your flight status AND (dun dun dun!) the flights is CANCELLED.

Exactly.  If you don’t really know Albuquerque (it IS a city in the United States), you don’t know that while we have one of the best airports EVER (not kidding), there are few flights coming and going from this high desert city on the Rio Grande.  So, when I discovered that our flight was cancelled, I began a slow panic.  See, here’s the thing: it’s hard to rebook flights out of Albuquerque to somewhere because chances are that the few flights that also go to that place are being booked by people in Albuquerque trying to get out as well!

So, here’s the scenario: flight to Denver cancelled…no flights to Denver (at all) before the departure of the international flight to Bangkok.  BTW, want to know something else about travel to another part of the world from Albuquerque?  Miss that FIRST flight and the rest of your schedule is toast….blackened toast, left way too long in the toaster…you can smell the burned crisp of bread across the whole house….ANYWAY flight to Denver cancelled…on the phone (now panicking officially) with airline agent who cannot get us to Bangkok on the time necessary to make the connecting flight (on the next day) to Bhutan.

And that’s another part of this fractured tale: Bhutan is less hard to get to than it was, but it is hard to get to…enough so that if you miss that connecting flight you are TOASTED…meaning no way to get to Bhutan no how.

So, here we are, on our way to Bangkok: rebooked, traveling the 1:20AM flight out of LAX….arrive in Bangkok in the early afternoon…just in time to get to the hotel and crash hard.

Well, that’s the TRAVEL side of things.  The mental/emotional toll is always something else entirely.  I supposed to be at a conference.  The conference lasts only 3 days…..I am going to miss AT LEAST 1 ½ of those days…..at least.  The whole reason for the trip, wiped away in an instant.  Certainly a test of patience….I guess that’s why I am listening to Pema Chödrön on how to breathe deeply and allow spaciousness to occupy my mind rather than those other crazy thoughts (I’m missing the friggin conference!!!)

Ah well, more thoughts soon….stay tuned.

The Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research

As I have written here before, the country of Bhutan adopted the principle of Gross National Happiness as both a product and a goal for the country.  The idea is a radical one and originated with the 4th King of Bhutan (the Druk Gyalpo).  The origins of the idea and how it developed can be found here: http://www.kuenselonline.com/the-origins-of-gnh/.

The Centre for Bhutan Studies sponsors conferences and speakers to further research on Bhutan, GNH, and Vajrayana Buddhism.  My travels to Bhutan this summer (graciously supported by a partial grant from Sandia Preparatory School), include a conference on the influence of Vajrayana Buddhism on Science, Medicine, Culture, and even History.  My participation in this conference coincides with my work on teaching and mindfulness in the classroom, as well as ways to incorporate cultural studies in the Modern World History and Global Studies program at Sandia Prep.

In addition, I will have the chance, courtesy of the Bhutan Tourism Bureau, to visit a number of cultural and historical sites for the upcoming student trip in June 2017.  Our plan is to investigate the availability of home stays in Bhutan and to continue creating deeper connections with the people and places in this remarkable country.  With the help of my friend and expert guide Namgay and his company Illuminating Tours http://www.illuminatingtoursbhutan.com, we will scout out the perfect trip for our students.

I will keep the blog updated, refreshed and hopefully interesting for those out there who read this kind of information.  Details about the conference and sessions will be posted here each night (between July 1st and 3rd, as well as information about the future trip and new sites we plan to visit.

If you have read this far, wonderful…..be well, my friends.