Sitting in my room; down coat, long underwear and pants, hat, slippers and 3 layers of long-sleeved thermal underwear (silk, wool and nylon blends). It’s COLD! Damn cold.
We’ve met many challenges in our time here but the cold has nailed me like no other. Sometimes it feels as if there is no escaping it though this isn’t completely true. At the school, during the day, the sun shines brightly on the south side of the building where the Anis and staff take full advantage to sit and plan and hold class in it’s glow. I don’t have a very accurate record of the temperature fluctuations but it is ranging from the low 30s to the low 60s. When the sun shines, it’s warmth brings my bones and my mind back to life. But when the day slips into darkness, the cold again creeps slowly but surely into my room and if I’m not vigilant to take cover, it overcomes me.
As the cold grips my body, my mind seems to restict. I find it more difficult to concentrate on work when I’m feeling chilled. My restricted state is the best excuse for my delay in posting to this blog. Right now it is morning and I’m sitting with my second cup of coffee. But the longer I write, the colder my fingers get, till I have to rest them in my pockets.
The sun is shining on the building across from me right now but my room sits in the shade. I just finished breakfast while wearing all of the clothes I’ve listed above. Fortunately we get a hot meal and I can wrap my fingers around a hot cup of coffee. When I’m not holding a cup of coffee, I fill my cup with hot water. It’s not only good for your health (according to the Chinese) it is a great hand warmer.
As you might expect, bedtime is earlier than usual. I can sit in my warm bed to read, meditate and use the computer. My sister in law (Kay) sent me a Christmas present through Joni; a hotpad. While it doesn’t heat the bed completely, it does a great job of knocking the chill off. My feet love it. Joni and I pass it between us in the evening before bed. She purchased a second one at Wal-Mart for herself but, sadly it does not work. Note to self: test all products BEFORE hauling them to Nepal.
I hate to complain but the cold conditions make living much more difficult and require periodic attitude adjustments. I truly love this place; the atmosphere and especially the people. But this chill is leading me to dream of beaches in Thailand (only 17 days away). When I’m at school with the children and the sun is shining (which it consistently does) I can relax and let go. So, fortunately, the cold is not a 24 hour a day challenge. Going to school is like coming up for air. Not only do I get to see the girls but I can warm my attitude.
Despite the challenge of cold, there are a lot of things I want to accomplish before I leave here. Some of these will require pushing through the cold in my room. Some require the computer and a clear mind. Some are just the mundane activities for staying clean and fed. For example, this morning I had to get some wash done. I can’t bear to do it in stone cold water. Rather, I use our tea kettle to warm a couple pots to take the chill off. Funny how just a little bit of warmth makes such a big difference.
Watching the US News I see that our country is struggling with many natural disasters and extreme conditions. In the Buddhist tradition we are encouraged to offer our suffering for the liberation of our fellow beings. And so I do. While my suffering here in the cold doesn’t compare to the loss of life or persistent and inescapable cold that some are experiencing, I pray that my fellow earth travelers are liberated from their suffering.