In the Clouds [Peru]

Cusco has [very literally, altitude is not a joke] taken my breath away.

Everywhere we travel to I’m convinced that this is my ‘new favorite place’.

The scenery is incomparable. The food divine [particularly for the vegan/vegetarians out there]. The air is thin and fresh.

This month for the tribe of The Nomad MBA has been one of focus and relative quietness. There is a possibility of a rhythm here that wasn’t necessarily an option in the vibrancy of Valparaiso.

Today was a perfect Sabbath for me. I woke up slowly. Snuggled and watched ‘Dear White People‘. Spoke to my family. I read, conversed, shopped, laughed. I walked through this magical city. I wrote and thought. I thanked.

As I meandered home a song came on my iPod: ‘Expo ’86‘ by Death Cab For Cutie. The first part of the song goes:

‘Sometimes I think this cycle never ends
We slide from top to bottom and we turn and climb again
And it seems by the time that I have figured what it’s worth
The squeaking of our skin against the steel has gotten worse

But if I move my place in line I’ll lose
And I have waited, the anticipation’s got me glued

I am waiting for something to go wrong
I am waiting for familiar resolve’

Making my way home I was struck by the usual cynical tone of a Ben Gibbard offering. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good honest depiction of life as the next person, but I can’t help thinking that this time Ben got it wrong [despite having a pretty divine tone in his voice].

If I lose my place in line I’ll lose’… Well, not if you’re in the wrong line in the first place.

Those times in life when I feel I’ve been cheated from something, something I’ve fairly and justly waited for, have often been the most defining times in life. They’re the times I’ve been plucked out of waiting for something that wasn’t good for me only to realize there was a much better path ahead. One that I would have probably missed if I kept staring at my feet waiting in line.

I also understand that feeling of waiting for something to go wrong. The feeling of sliding from the top to the bottom and having to climb up again.

I’m pretty sure that’s not the whole story though.

Of course there are the times we’re handed lemons. And we really don’t feel like making lemonade. At best we want to throw the lemons on the ground and jump on them until they are pulverized.

But I think it is possible to have a hope that every experience, every moment is actually drawing us closer into the light, life and truth that does exist out there.

If we stop trying to get to a destination and instead accept the experiences that come along as a gift that each teach us a lesson then it’s not really about getting to the top to then at some point fall down again.

It’s about the fullness of the experience.

It’s not about waiting for something to go wrong.

It’s about recognizing the life.

As we climbed (in a bus) up to Machu Picchu I got that dropping feeling in my stomach, every time we came close to the edge the drop got more and more severe. One wrong move by the driver and we would have plummeted to an incredibly dramatic death.

Whilst having these thoughts I was so distracted that I wasn’t fully able to appreciate the shear majesty of the rock faces rising to meet us.

Then we reached the top of the road. We were safe [and I was in control again] and just a short walk through some very large gates and there it was. One of the wonders of the world.

There was a time in my life where I would have been consumed with a fear standing on a mountain side like that one. Anything from the thought the ground would give way in a freak earthquake, or a storm might roll in and blow us into the raging river below would filled my head and hasten my heartbeat.

Standing in awe at both ingenuity of humanity and the spectacular creation of the nature all around us I realized that there had been a huge shift in me from that time.

Away from that waiting for something to go wrong. 

Away from the expectation that things can only get worse from here.

Towards the incredibleness of that one moment, and the expectation that there will be more of those, even if sometimes in between there are very much less awesome moments.

So standing in the clouds in the Peruvian Andes I contemplated that subtle change in me again. Learning that even if one day I start experiencing that ‘waiting for the worst’ feeling there’s nothing from me turning it back around again. That there is peace in the clouds, and the valley and everywhere in between.

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