I met Anand Mehrotra, a guru from Rishikesh, briefly when studying with Candace Silvers in Los Angeles. There was definitely something about him-- a uniqueness, a peace, a playfulness, an ease, a loving seriousness, a light. There was just something about him in person that transcended above what my mind sarcastically told me at the time was typical guru jargon. So, years later, when I heard he was a part of a documentary filmed called 'The Highest Pass,' I made it my highest priority.
The story of 'The Highest Pass' is that of a spiritual journey that takes Anand and seven other folks on a motorcycle ride across the highest and most dangerous travelable road located in the Himalayas. It's a story about a journey to Ladakh. But more importantly, it's a story about being willing to live in your fear and make choices that say yes to life.
I find that certain movies, books, conversations come into my life at different times for specific reasons. I knew moving to the Cascade mountains of Washington, living just east of the Washington Pass and Rainy Pass, this story was one I needed to see.
What struck me the most, was that this movie wasn't necessarily inspirational or life-changing to me. Instead, it was a mirror to my life right now. Very cool! I'm in the movie and on their journey; I'm just not in The Himalayas, I'm in The Cascades. I've experienced wiping out on my bike and getting back on again, fatigue, elevation issues, physical exertion, saying yes when it doesn't make sense... constant FEAR.
Adam Schomer had been studying with Anand for three years when he was invited to go. "I've never wanted to ride a bike. I think it's dangerous. I have no desire. And then I thought, 'Well, okay- I'm afraid of that.' I'll just say yes. I'll just say yes now because I want to go to the Himalayas and I want to be with Anand."
I LOVE Adam's spirit!!! He just knows to go. I don't know how NOT to go anymore. I've seen too many miracles being willing & open, choosing fearlessness that I've become a junkie! I want that magic. I want hard. I want transformation. I want the next challenge. If it's going to grow me, align me with the stars for some magical moment, magical life, sign me up! I think folks that are on that search for truth are the ones that will take something from this film.
Something else that struck me was a simple moment from the sole woman on the trip. She says... "conventional, mundane societies told me I should be married by now. I should have children by now... That's a story that needs to be let go." I can absolutely relate to that. As I approach 35, knowing I took a $30,000 pay cut to work as a baker in the middle of nowhere for a low hourly salary without benefits, I hear her words resonate. And as a gal trying to 'figure out' whether I should stay in Mazama through the end of October as planned or if I should stay here through the winter, I hear those thoughts come up again. "But staying here postpones my own business, finding love, moving forward, new magical opportunities..." and "Going back to LA might mean missing out on beauty, unknown challenges, living on my own for the first time, learning bread," etc. That's all fear talking. (Not to mention my aunt & uncle found each other at a basecamp on top of a mountain aaaand only summited when they did the trip together. Awww... Point being-- you bring into your life what you're ready for).
I've learned it's comfortable and 'responsible' from the world's perspective to want to plan everything. It always feels better because it's that instant gratification of 'knowing.' Yet really, to 'figure it out' would just be controlling it... suffocating it... and forcing the magic from my life. Blech. :) Like Anand says, "The highest pass is within us. The journey is to realize that." Knowing I fully capable of anything, I'd hate to minimize my life.
Thankfully, as the years have passed, I've learned to let go of the need to plan my future and to demand what's in it. My life has been incredible thus far-- I've seen and done more in the past few years (and couple of months!) than I ever dreamed! And then it's always funny how the mind works... Once you let go of your need to be at some societal status, your brain wants to find out what the 'plan' is for being an adventurer. Ha! I DON'T KNOW, BRAIN! :) And then you let that go... let it go again a few seconds later... until you can sit in the fear. The unknown can feel scary but if you are able to really marinate in it with only love and gratitude, recognizing that the universe isn't against you but brings these things up FOR you? It's incredibly powerful and transforming.
Reading reviews, it's clear to see that some folks think Anand is nuts. "Okay, I get the whole fearless thing but that's just STUPID, dude." I may have even thought that myself for a moment! But what I understood from the film is that he's not saying it's NOT intellectually or culturally 'stupid' to do what they're doing. He's not saying you WON'T die. He's not saying it's 'responsible.' And he's definitely not saying that they're safe with him as long as they have faith. Nope. It's freaking dangerous. You could very well die. There's not a 'Get Out Of Death Free' Card because it's being filmed and you're with a guru and you're a dancing, magical unicorn of light!
The lesson I saw was that he gave each of these riders an opportunity to face fear head on. If they weren't afraid, if there was no fear, there would be no lesson. There would be no transformation. So he upped the ante, raised the stakes and every time we do that? It's an opportunity to face fear, an opportunity to sit in it, the opportunity to let it go in love and the opportunity to grow. Doing what scares you, can mean physical death. But to stay where it is comfortable, is a guaranteed death anyway- both a physical & conscious death. We're all going to die... It's just a matter of how we want to live!
And finally... there's a town named 'Mandi' in the film-- even spelled with an 'I!' I paid close attention. I think you can all gather by now I like to look for meaning in just about anything. On the way to Mandi, they drive through the craziest streets of traffic where oncoming traffic is fast and dangerously unpredictable. The riders talk about constantly being in a state of fear on their bikes, facing death literally at every turn, just exhausted. It's exactly where I'm at in this moment. I understand that kind of fatigue having said yes to everything since I've been here (long hikes & rockclimbing at over 200+ pounds, jumping in frigid waters so cold I can't formulate a sentence, letting go of fear when I hear cougars have shown up to my workplace, etc). While I wasn't on a motorcycle facing sporadic, oncoming traffic, doing what scares me on a daily basis has depleted my reserves for sure!
The next few weeks will be easier, a slower pace, more relaxing, MORE MEDITATION. I have sooo many hikes to share with you and beautiful, amazing pictures. I promise to post them soon. In the meantime, if you want to see some beautiful scenery & are feeling fearless about wrapping your brain around some snippets of wisdom from an enlightened man, take a look at 'The Highest Pass' and then challenge yourself to find the 'highest pass' within you. Whatever that is for you... xoxo.
I doubt very much 'my trip' is over and I can only imagine what is next. FO REALZ. But for tonight? I'm looking forward to the most indulgent night's sleep!!! Netflix the movie! :)