Howdy from Kathmandu! I hope you are happy and healthy. Is life going well where you are? If you have time and inclination, please answer.
Schools here are open again. The children and teachers all wear masks. Restrictions have loosened a bit to allow just a few more tourists into Nepal. This minimal increase in traffic is not enough to fix all the serious economic problems, but it is a bit of an improvement for many of the local businesses.
This week’s 1000 words are from the book Fearless Puppy On American Road. They are ostensibly about the process of hitchhiking. I have hitchhiked so much that it has become my metaphor for life. I hope you enjoy the metaphor.
A human mind works best when trained to be coherent, clear-sighted, and capable of self-organization while also being creatively free range. It is a very serious advantage to have a cohesive partnership going on between intelligent thought, creative process, and productive action. Otherwise, your thoughts and life can end up like so many positively inspired political and environmental efforts do—nobly motivated, fueled with great dedication, and a joy to be involved with—but not altogether coherently coordinated enough to reach the great level of success that such noble motivations deserve. It seems that great intentions and strong effort can’t get the job done themselves. A successful process has to be mastered and implemented. Please be well and stay well. Love, Tenzin***
p.s. As always, if you find these weekly bits bothersome, let me know and I’ll stop sending them to you. If you find the reading at all enjoyable, please—it literally takes only seconds—click one or more or all of the highlighted backlinks following this paragraph. This simple process is completely without risk, cost, or difficulty. All it does is bring you to the site that is highlighted. Each click is a big help in pushing Fearless Puppy up in the Google rankings. Whether you browse the sites or close the windows immediately, your help has been delivered. Thank you! FEARLESS PUPPY WEBSITE BLOG
There is a process to hitchhiking. Much of what holds true for the hitchhiking process often holds true for other parts of life as well.
First, you’ve got to decide that you want to get somewhere other than where you are. Then you have to raise the energy and determination to actually leave your present location. All trips start with a determination that’s serious enough to get you off your butt and moving. You might have a very specific destination in mind or it could just be a direction. Regardless of the destination, you will probably have to overcome some stagnation, lethargy, patterned behavior, and also risk some stability, in order to get anywhere.
“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” Frank Zappa
After that, you have to pack what you’ll need. It’s always best to reach a balance in packing. Obvious essentials such as flashlight, towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, emergency food and water need to be included. But you may have to walk miles in rough weather from a place you get stuck in. The difference between a thirty-pound pack and an eighty-pound pack could end up being the difference between comfort or exhaustion/heat stroke/frostbite and even death. But then again, so could a half-pound sweater that you thought unnecessary and left behind. Pack wisely.
You’ll also want a map. Other folks have been to the places you want to get to and have traveled in the directions you want to go. Maps exist for nearly every piece of road in the world. They all use universal symbols. No matter where you are from or what language you speak, everyone knows that a bigger dot means a bigger city and that a thicker line connotes a major highway. You can journey uninformed in unfamiliar territory, if you like. You can even make your own trail or road through wilderness. Folks used to do it all the time in the olden days. Folks used to suffer much greater hardships and die younger back then too. Luckily, many of those people made maps of the roads they built or discovered. Reading those maps can save us modern folk a lot of time, energy, and disaster. A map can help you to live longer and more comfortably than people did in the olden days.
It is best to start a long hitchhiking trip from the on-ramp of a highway. Don’t stand right out on the highway itself. There are good reasons why this is illegal. It is not only dangerous for the hitchhiker, but also for the highway traffic. The chance of getting crushed into eternity by a seventy mile per hour vehicle paying strict attention to its own process is a lot greater on the highway itself than on the entrance ramp. Any driver entering a ramp at twenty-five miles per hour is going to be immediately aware that you are on the shoulder looking for a ride. That driver will have a greater ability to pull over without killing you, his or her own passengers, or the folks in other vehicles than a seventy mile per hour highway car would.
Get to the highway or main road as quickly and easily as possible. Standing on a barely traveled road in a rural area where the drivers are unfamiliar with you might last long enough for you to become vulture food. Hitching on a main city street is usually unproductive and can be dangerous as well. The highway or main road is probably close enough to where you wake up so that you can get a ride from a friend, take a local bus, or even walk to it.
Once you are wisely packed and on an entrance ramp to a main road, you’re going to need patience. You can be properly packed and intelligently discriminating about which cars you get into. That’s brilliant. But it does not change the fact that on some days you will get passed by hundreds of cars and have to wait several hours before anyone stops to pick you up. And it doesn’t change the fact that a driver who initially seems like fun may turn into a downer, or danger, after a half hour’s acquaintance.
Most of the time good luck will favor you. It will most often be a good person that will bother to pull their car over to help a stranger. You still have to be vigilant, discriminating, and patient—full time. That way you’re prepared for anything. Prepared does not mean paranoid or even afraid. It means aware. Have fun! Traveling should be a joyful process. If you think every car pulling over for you will have an axe-murderer driving it, you should take the bus. (Unfortunately, your odds of meeting that axe-murderer won’t drop much on the bus.)
If you live through many years of hitchhiking, you will eventually get what is called “a feel for the road.” You’ll have better instincts for the best times to be on which roads, what sort of equipment to carry, whose car to not get into, and so on. Rides will seem to come more easily. This is still no time to let your humbly positive attitude or awareness fall asleep. Whether you are novice or adept at all this, neither human driver nor divine force owes you a ride—nor are either under your control. Be pleasant and grateful to the person that finally does stop for you. It is not your benevolent host’s fault if you have been standing in freezing rain for two hours.
At its best, hitchhiking is a joint venture where you and your hosts benefit each other. In such instances, taking the ride can be a joy. If you’re not grateful, if you are arrogant, or if you are not aware of each situation you get into—any ride can certainly be otherwise.I hope it is obvious to you that these procedures can apply to any number of life’s processes besides hitchhiking.
Pick a place you want to get to.
Prepare wisely and diligently.
Read a map.
Hit the road comfortably, but with your eyes open.
Have fun. If you aren’t having fun, you may be doing something wrong. Stop. Figure out what it is. Fix it. Get back on the road.
p.s. No matter how far you have gone down the wrong road, turn back.
Many thanks to our wonderful friends at the Pema Boutique Hotel for their help and support.
***The books Fearless Puppy On American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense by this same author are also available through Amazon or the Fearless Puppy website, where there are sample chapters from those books. Entertaining TV/radio interviews with and newspaper articles about the author are also available there. There is no charge for anything but the complete books! All author profits from book sales will be donated to help sponsor an increase in the number of wisdom professionals on Earth, beginning with but certainly not limited to Buddhist monks and nuns.
***If you missed the Introduction to the new book that will be titled Temple Dog Soldier, or would like to see several chapters of it that are available for free online, go to the Puppy website Blog section. This is a book in progress. You will be reading it as it is being created! Just like you, I don’t know what the next chapter is going to be about until it is written. As the Intro will tell you, this is a totally true story—and probably the only book ever written by and about a corpse journeying completely around the world!