Kleshas and Tanhas

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Ra-Ra for Ramen in the Rockies Day 1

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       July 27, 2011
     Mylast night in society ended perfectly after a spectacular day in Denver. Oncethe phone’s clock hit midnight, my luck came to a sudden end. I woke upabruptly like I had many times on the plane. I couldn’t really tell if I wasfully awake or in a daze. But this morning, I remained awake thanks to myhorrendous tummy ache. It still was nagging me for three days now.
Yesterday, we actuallyconsumed the toxin-filled water from the Platte River. I was giving Will a demoon how to filter water with the Platypus Gravity Filter. This morning, at thecrack of dawn, I realized the filtration had no impact on that filthy, flowingwater. I only drank two or three sips because my stomach ached from thirst.

I’m unbelievably pickywhen it comes to water and its tastes. Typically, I have found taste is affectedby temperature. The Platte River was lukewarm. So I gave up trying to drinkpoisonous water and faced being thirsty. When Will dozed off on this patio inCommon Park by the river, I tried a second water fountain that also didn’twork. Pushed by thirst, I compromised my water standards. Yes, I filled thewater bottle from a park bathroom sink that stank from the shit smeared allover the stall. The whole quest for water put me in a crappy mood.
Anyways, the river waterdidn’t have any immediate influence on my stomach pains. So by 1 a.m. the nextday, I woke up to the sound of Katy Perry playing in my head. Fireworksand the thought of diarrhea infested my brain to the point where all I could dowas doze off for a few minutes and wake up to the same verse in her songs. Ihate playing mind games. I try so desperately to convince myself that mystomach’s hurt will exit my body by taking a number two rather than coming backup the top hatch.
By dawn, the pain hadmade its way low enough for me to be convinced I could rid myself of the painby taking a number two. (I have a mental line drawn on my tummy that, when paincrosses below it, I wait patiently for my intestines to kick in.) When I hadwaited long enough for daylight to peep through the curtains, I braved theeight-step trip to the bathroom.
Platte River
Diarrhea didn’t resolveanything. In fact, it opened up more space in my belly for me to feel the painlurch around even more. I called it quits after sitting patiently on the toiletfor fifteen minutes as Lisa’s cat ponderously stared at me. (The kitten waskept in the bathroom so he would not disturb Will and me as we slept. Poor guy.)
So after locking thekitty back in his lair, I tried to fall asleep. Successful until Will’sobnoxious alarm went off, I had my eyes closed for about a complete hour. Thealarm somehow restarted and worsened the pain. I mumbled to Will, asking forthe garbage can, which was thankfully brought to me in the nick of time.
I dry heaved twice.Nothing came but an upward-yank feeling on my groin with each heave. I changedmy position from a shoulder-holding-my-weight stance to a cross-legged yogaposition. The Whole Foods paper bag, which served as a garbage can, was fittedbetween my legs as I heaved a third time. Finally something came up. The lightswere off so I couldn’t tell what meal the chunks came from. My eyes werewatering by the fourth heave. Subsequently, my nose began to drip; anuncontrollable side effect from putting contacts in daily and having my eyesrun with the saline solution. I was ergo, unable to smell the typically nosepiercing smell that puke emits.
This untimely fiascoforced me to forfeit my eggs and bacon that we excitedly bought the nightbefore, anticipating our final meal in society. Will, along with Lisa’s dog,Colby, shared my serving as I drank a stomach-soothing tea prescribed by ourhostess. It worked. But the reality of the day ahead loomed over me; hiking inthe high altitude of the Rocky Mountains.
Once in Denver, we wereon Lisa’s time. We eventually got to the trailhead after driving through theluxurious city of Boulder. Adorned by Colorado University’s red terracotta,Boulder was quite the launch pad for our adventure. Lisa brought Colby, the best-behavedBorder collie I have met. He endured the windy 10,000 foot ascent next to me inthe back seat. On any other day, my stomach would have been fine. But shortlyafter recuperating from this morning’s surprise, the poor thing (my stomach) wasviciously attacked by altitude sickness. In addition to stomach mayhem, Ibecame dizzy. But once inside the gates of Indian Peaks Backcountry, we pulledover for a much needed bathroom break.
The ride into themountains made me feel like I was five years old. You can fight altitudesickness, so I am told, with water. Let me point out that my three piecedilemma that I face while trying to feel better. First off, my stomach was amess and was not in the mood for any (liquid) medicine to take up space in itsregion in my body. Second, I played some more mind games and drank a waterbottle flavored with a spoonful of pomegranate tea. Third, the combination ofthe two prior components made me pee for a minute and fifteen seconds straightonce we finally got 18 year old Jacky-baby to a latrine. My, oh my how nicethat latrine was (especially compared to some of the latrines back home in theBlue Ridge Parkway…)
Lisa offered me somealternative, hands-on remedy for my remaining, but subtle pains. Her practice wasan interesting amalgamation of tapping different body parts that possessed highconcentrates of energy. Apparently these areas had nerve endings that sentmessages, like all other nerves, more effectively to my brain.

         Lisa happens to be themanaging editor for Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal (as well as senior editor, two separate executive editorpositions, and associate editor for four other periodicals.) She startedtapping my Crown Chakra (which, interestingly enough, in this line of work, shedid not refer to it is as such.) Still, she moved from tapping the center of myhead to a second point located below my eye, next to where my nose meets therest of my face; that little crevice there where sleep catches. There were anadditional six places, one of which possessed a lot of energy in my instance;the collarbone. I repeated some lines while she tapped: “I fully accept andlove my body, even though my tummy hurts me.” Lisa explained that usingpositive statements surpassed using negative ones (which, she elaborated, wereinitially used in this line of work before a modern shift to positive optimism.)The tapping of the nerve endings would stop my mind from thinking that mystomach was sick-or, at least, that was my understanding of her practice. On ascale of 1-10, my pain dropped from a six to a two after three separate roundsof tapping. Talk about mind games!

At the intersection of trails, looking back towards Boulder
Lisa and Colby cameabout a quarter to a half mile into the trail with Will and me. The late-Julysnow forbid her leather, work sandals to go no further. My same hiking teeshirt and zip off pants I used in the Virginia Appalachia fared just as well inthis thick, avalanche-prone snow! The temperature must have been thealways-perfect-72 degrees with a crisp breeze. Yet, the snow didn’t look likeit was going anywhere any time soon.
We departed from Lisaand Colby after a few Alp-like background photographs were snapped. Will and Imade our way to the intersection of Mt. Audubon trailhead and our path. Mt.Audubon somehow loomed over us in the northwest even though we started at theparking lot at roughly 10,000 feet. To say the height of these mountains wasdaunting would be to discredit their awe-inspiring presence; imminent andinescapable.
I fell immediately backinto the same dull, divided mindset I had on the Appalachian Trail back home inVirginia. Up until we started a slight descent, I didn’t feel much at all.Because ascents have me looking at myfeet, my physical and mental energies were channeled elsewhere. Out of nowherecame a wave full of emotions with the breeze. It touched my body, heart, andsoul in one swift gust of God’s breath. I almost cried. Multiple aspects of mysurroundings, feelings, future, and family formulated this abrupt mood swing.
Sawtooth Mountain
To explain, here’s theorigin of the effects on my body. I was undergoing a delayed reaction to thealtitude. When the fact of the matter of trekking at 10,000 feet hit mylungs, I felt an inverted high from the lightheadedness. On top of my bodilyreaction was my heart’s. Switching from burning to aching in an instant as anyyoung heart might, I missed my family. It was only the second day from home, ortechnically, the first full day. Eventhough I was hiking with my best friend and role model, I felt the distancebetween the rocky peak I was walking beneath and the rolling Blue Ridge athome. For the first time ever, I experienced a realer, more forceful sense ofindependence and solitude.
The vast mountains, nothills, stretched high into the clouds forcing me to feel almost abandoned; Icould not physically have what my heart yearned, whereas home fenced everyoneand everything within a reasonable distance. It’s undoubtedly indicative (as thefeeling still weighs my heart even now as I write this) of my departure forcollege. With that concept identified, the distance grew even farther as itsinevitable reality is now only 23 days away. In this quick sense ofdesperation, I listened to God’s voice in the over-used “Be not afraid, for Iam with you” quote. Being this high in the sky, I am almost certain one of thearchangels whispered the same words Gabriel whispered to Mary into my soul.
While my Senior Projecton the AT was titled “Spirituality in the Mountains,” I must confess that thespirits here are incredibly different from the inhabitants of the Blue Ridge.Appalachia emanates an innate sense of ancient and tribal spirituality. TheRockies, from what I can tell from Day 1, maintain an intimidating, butstrikingly beautiful, emotion-stirring animus,prana.
Different sects ofChristianity describe a similar, but virtually nonexistent-in-today’s-worldterm of “fear and awe of the Lord.” And in the Rockies this first night, Iimmediately thought of some Augustinian, if not Aquinas’ reasoning paraphrasedas “the Lord God created the heavens, and the earth, and the race of Man.Because God created us, we are inherently and consequently made with some sortof essence of God.”[1]I have no doubt that I feel God’s presence within His creation of both me andthe mountains and to feel that clear unity shared between both of us was primordial.
These first-time-feltfeelings left me as we continued descending. My body was running on a cup oftea as we eventually stopped to snack. The photos we’ve taken can say more thanthe thousands of words I’d struggle to find in order to describe the sceneryhere. We, or rather I alone, continued to struggle adjusting to the altitudewhile Will checked the map at the many stops my shallow breathing necessitated throughoutthe day.
The combination of bothhis and my wrongs had us thinking we were much further along than we reallywere. My fault was obvious; out of shape (or just poorly adjusting to the newclimate.) His was the repeated checking of the map (which was directly my faultfor having us stop frequently.) Still, the frequent map checking is a disease.Sometimes short-term, hikers face it when they start out on a trail for thefirst time. It’s a very cruel and unusualdisease since we could cure it if we just put the map away….
So with both faultsbeing committed incessantly and more frequently as we passed our predestine 12o’clock finish, we stopped for a two-thirty Ramen lunch. We were caught in acold drizzle. Very interesting to note: Will said the rains come consecutivelyat noon every day, but we lucked outand got it two and half hours later. It’s probably five-thirty as I finishwriting this after two, if not three hours since we stopped here; two, if notthree miles short of the lake Will initially planned for us to stop at for theday. There’s some river passing nearby, and we’re almost in the shadow of acouple mountains. The one huge comfort that consoles me is my book: The Game of Thrones! I look forward toreading it after I get out of this tent to pee! The rains left, came again, andnow left us with puffy white clouds. Though, those seem to be leaving. The bluesky fills in the cracks between the puzzle-pieced clouds as the sun begins toset.
I lied. It’s actually6:40! Gotta pee!
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[1]Now back among resources, I was able to do some “lite research” to figure outwhat I was trying to say. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church I found thesame idea I was trying to convey in several areas. Firstly, “‘God created manin his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female hecreated them.’ (Genesis 1:27.) Man occupies a unique place in creation: he is “inthe image of God”; in his own nature he unites the spiritual and materialworlds; he is created “male and female”; God established him in his friendship.”(CCC, 355.) Secondly, “But this “intimate and vital bond of man to God”(Gaudium et Spes, 19, 1.) can be forgotten…”(CCC, 29.) That bond is describedas such: “From the verycircumstance of his origin man is already invited to converse with God. For manwould not exist were he not created by Gods love and constantly preserved byit; and he cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledgesthat love and devotes himself to His Creator.” (GS 19, 1.) 

Written by Jack Viere

October 22, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Posted in Catholic Church

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