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Sunday, January 20, 2013

How did I end up in Bhutan?

Loving Bhutan
I often contemplate on how I ended up in Bhutan, which never fails to bring a smile to my heart.  I decided to blog my little inspirational story, as my last blog about Bhutan before I start sharing a bit of my experiences in India.  While I was writing the last sentence of this blog entry into my journal on a train to Delhi, three Bhutanese college students randomly peeked their heads through my curtains and to their surprise they saw some pictures of Bhutan on my travel partner's laptop.  After a few minutes of chatting, they asked me, "How did you end up in Bhutan?"

I started laughing saying, "Funny you ask because I just wrote about it in my journal."  I explained how one evening about three years ago, I was curled up in bed flipping through the channels when I came across a documentary about a Buddhist monk looking for his master teacher who reincarnated somewhere in the Himalayan mountains.  There was something about the Buddhist monk trailing along isolated footpaths  searching in and out of remote villages that made my heart flutter.  Instantly, I fell in love with the scenery of the Himalayas and I became mesmerized by Buddhism. 

Then I became even more fascinated when the following program was about the Kingdom of Bhutan, which is a Buddhist country nestled in the Himalayan mountains.  I had never heard of Bhutan and I felt like I had just discovered the world's best kept secret:  The last Shangri-La. 
My heart fermented with a deep longing to one day step foot in this Kingdom of Happiness.  My desire was so strong it bursted through my chest with pain from the thought of never seeing it in person; I was committed to a Masters in Teacher's Education Program and I thought that there was no way I could ever go.  It seemed too far out of my reach.  However, I didn't understand the power of love.  I didn't know that I lit a little flame inside me so bright that it would never die and from that moment on, with each beat of my heart, I was just one more heart beat away from living my new dream.  

As weeks turned into months, slowly I forget about Bhutan and I got swept away with the routines of life.  A few years later, I had successfully completed my Master's Degree and was teaching summer school.  Unfortunately, the tidiness of life had swept away Bhutan from my memory!  Then one day, I found myself siting at my desk during lunch feeling like I was not living my destiny although I had no idea what my destiny could be.  Just then, suddenly I felt an urge to type in the computer "teach abroad."  Following my urge, I came across a website that advertised to teach in Spain, Europe, etc. With each glance at the names of the different countries, I felt nothing and said  "na, na, na."  

Finally, I saw the word, Bhutan, among a dozen of other countries and I felt a wave of energy run through me.  My head tilted to the side as I thought, Hmm that sounds familiar, I think that I have herd of that country before.  Immediately, I clicked on it and it took me to the Bhutan Canada Foundation (BCF) homepage, which just so happened to be hiring teachers to teach in Bhutan.  As I saw the pictures of Bhutan, a floodgate of the love I once felt when I first saw it several years before came pouring back.  Once again, I felt that burning desire of flame grow even brighter than before as I whispered to myself, "I know that place!"  

I applied right there and then!  The next day I got a call for an interview.  A few interviews later, I was hired and re-arranging my life to head half way around the world.  When I got to Bhutan, I learned that out of 250 applications and 100 skpe interviews, I was one of 18 teachers selected from around the world boarding an airplane to Bhutan.  

My point is not to brag because I don't believe that there was anything special about me that got me selected over others.  Instead my point is to share that I believe I made it to Bhutan despite the odds because of the power of love for a dream; when you feel a calling to do something or when you feel that your heart is lit with a burning desire, faith can move you in directions that we can't always see.  Then at the right moment, our dreams may manifest with an open heart that is willing to jump into the unknown.  For instance, I was terribly nervous to leave behind my sweet life in San Diego all to follow a nagging calling to teach in Bhutan and now in hindsight, I'm so happy that I followed my heart because I was led to the most beautiful experience of my life.  It was beyond what I had ever dreamed could be possible.  The scenery was breathtaking,  I made amazing friendships, my heart was touched by the sweetest children and Bhutan stretched the depths of my perceptions.

Thus, when my teaching contract was coming to an end, I wasn't quite ready to leave, but I felt that I had reached a personal growing capacity.  I felt like I was being drawn to the next phase of my path:  learning about Buddhism.  So when the Rimphoce of Gangtay personally asked me to teach the nuns at his Pema Choling nunnery in Bhutan (which is another story), I couldn't resist to have one more magical experience in Bhutan.  I'm thrilled to report that after my travels in India, I will be returning in the spring to to live and teach in a Buddhist nunnery for six months.  I can't wait to see what Bhutan has in store for me next.  

My Best Friends in Bhutan
One of my favorite memories:  My girls having a slumber party at my home on the last day of school
Sleeping Time
See ya later