Before dinner on October 3rd, I sat with my host father and brother in front of the TV. CNN was playing, and the words “59 Dead, 527 Injured in Las Vegas Massacre” dominated the bottom of the screen. It was the first time I had watched TV in three weeks and the last time I hope to ever hear words like that.
With pretty much no access to technology here in Nepal apart from the occasional email or Yak post, I feel very disconnected from my world at home. It’s almost as if my life is on pause- like everything is just how I left it. I don’t see any social media posts of my friends or family and I don’t get breaking news updates sent to my phone. It’s hard to picture how life moves on at home due to the minimal contact. However, as I sat in front of the TV that night, it was like I awoke from a dream. These past few weeks in Nepal have been some of the best of my life. I have laughed until I cried on multiple occasions, I have seen the most spectacular landscapes, and I have been introduced to a fascinating country and culture. My reality since I left home has been filled with amazing friends and happy times. However, the sort of bubble I have been living in popped as soon as I heard the news of the shooting. I then started to think about the separate realities that exist in my life now that I am so far away from home.
The reality of my life here in Patan is much different than I am used to. Here, I spend hours each day navigating the crowded, narrow streets, hoping I can find my way home at the end of the day. Here, I spend nights reading, writing, and watching the sunset with my family rather than distracting myself with technology. Here, I am surrounded and welcomed by the most amazing people who offer me copious amounts of chiya and daal bhat. Here, I spend hours each day observing my ISP mentor (and host father) as he crafts impeccable silver jewelry , and then I mostly fail when he asks me to try. Here, I stumble through Nepali language classes and embarrass myself when I practice with my family. Here, my reality is so very different than at home, but it has become normal.
There, my bedroom sits empty and my parents are down to only one child living at home. There, my friends are settling into college and learning a lot of independence in the process. There, the leaves are starting to change as the days get cooler and cooler. There, life has moved on without me, but not necessarily in a positive direction. There, hundreds of individuals have fallen victim to a senseless act of violence. There, families are grieving and worried for their loved ones. There, millions of people are supporting a community in need during this impossibly difficult time. There, life is not paused.
There is not here. Here is not there. And while it is important to live with what’s here, it is equally as important not to forget whats there. These past few weeks, I have been a little to caught up in my own reality and I have neglected to fully consider the reality of the rest of the world. It’s easy to lose perspective and forget about other problems around the world when life is good. However, in order to move forward as a society, it’s important that we look beyond our own reality for clarity and guidance.
In my last Yak post, I used teacups as a metaphor to describe the impermanence of life as we know it. This week in Las Vegas, the teacup broke and left pieces scattered all around. The teacup will never be as it once was, but the truth of impermanence carries on and continues to challenge me to appreciate every moment that I have here.