Monday, May 28, 2012

What Saves You

You know, I just wanted to say something at this point and it's about the reason I've been talking about all of these dead people. And the reason for this is a trip that I took recently to Tibet. And I went there to look at a lake way up in the Himalayas. And this lake is in an extremely remote part of Tibet. And, when the Dalai Lama dies, a lot of lamas travel to this lake to look at it, because, written in code on the surface of the water, somehow, are instructions for finding the new Dalai Lama. For example, there would be a certain sign on the water for the word "west" and another for the word "gate," and another for "dusty road." And so, that's how they would find the new Dalai Lama. They would look in western Tibet and they would find a gate and at the end of this dusty road there would be a little boy playing and this would be the incarnation of the Dalai Lama. Now, being a somewhat suspicious person, I wanted to see this lake and get a look at the huge xenon projectors hidden around on the hermit caves that might explain this phenomenon. So, there were 12 of us trekking, plus 8 sherpas and 27 yaks. And, we set off into the mountains and we got really lost. And we weren't really prepared for how far it was going to be or how cold it was going to be. And, so, we would get up every morning and we would drink this coffee with yak butter, you know, it was snowing and freezing and we would start to walk. And, then, at about 22,000 feet I got altitude sickness that just wouldn't go away. And for days I had a fever of 104, you know, 20 Advil a day. And I was convinced that my head had been sliced open. And, so, when the other trekkers tried to help me, you know, rummaging around in the oxygen equipment, I kept thinking, how nice of them to be pretending to look for something to help me and not even mentioning that my head has been sliced wide open. So, anyway, finally, these headaches went away. And all I heard for days were bells and the horizon was doing some great pulsating gold patterns and then wild stripes. And, we finally reached the lake. But by that point, I couldn't really see much of anything except these gold lights. And that night, because I found out later, the leader had gotten a group together and said, we have to be prepared for the fact that she's going to die tonight, meaning me. So, that night, they sent me down in a body bag, strapped to a donkey, with a sherpa guide and another American trekker and some oxygen equipment. And I just kept slipping in and out of consciousness. So, I said to this other trekker, you know, listen, can you just keep talking to me because I just keep, you know, going away. And this trekker was a really strong guy but very shy. He hardly said anything the whole trip. But he started to talk and he talked non-stop for 3 days. You know, look at the gorse over there, look at the frozen yak turds, look at the stars. And I remember that voice pulling on me like it was a long, thin line. Just a single voice. And, that's how I held on. His voice was a rope, repelling me down. And, that's why I'm telling you this because maybe you know what it's like to be saved this way. Just by the sound of another person's voice. And, so, that's what happened to me and I just thought I should explain it to you.

-"Trip to Tibet"
 by Laurie Anderson

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