The Monk’s Trail… my wife had read about it on Pinterest.
A concealed trek through the forest to Wat Pha Lat, a temple rarely visited by tourists. Perhaps that’s because it’s halfway up the road to it’s much more famous sibling, Wat Doi Suthep, the most well known, most visited and (considered) most beautiful of all of Chiang Mai’s temples.
When driving up the mountain to Doi Suthep, it’s more of a footnote. We could have driven, but we wanted to hike the trail. It’s a hidden little temple where monks live. Nothing would lead you to believe it was even worth visiting.
Until you arrive that is.
And then you find yourself sitting with friendly Monks, on a huge stone mountaintop, overlooking a massive forest with a stunning view of the city.
But I digress. This blog is about Janet being a guru.
On the night we arrived in Chiang Mai, she told me about this hike. I was excited and we began early the next day. We were totally prepared with water, fruit, bug spray, suntan lotion and Jan even had taken screen shots of the Pinterest directions, complete with photos to help us find our way.
We found our way to a songthaew, a red truck like communal taxi where you sit in the back, to the Chiang Mai University/Zoo area, just as the directions said. But as soon as we got out, all of those exacting directions and pictures made no sense. We walked and walked, asked person after person, but everyone just shook their head. Up and down the mountain road we walked, sweating and confused. Finally, an old woman who was sweeping the sidewalk told us that we had to be at the back entrance of the zoo.
Ahh, ok. Only the Zoo wasn’t open yet so we couldn’t cut through.
We decided to cut through the university and start from there.
We asked students and grounds workers, but still no one knew, nor could they understand what we meant by getting to the rear of the zoo. A student finally seemed to understand what we were asking and gave us directions in broken English. We couldn’t find where he said but kept going. More walking, more sweating, more confusion.
It had now been about 2-3 hours and my energy was waning.
Another student suggested we get on one of the jitneys that traverse the grounds so we did, if for no other reason than to stop walking. After looping around the school twice we were then told to get on the #5 jitney.
It was then, while resting at the student jitney, hot, tired, perhaps even a bit angry, my wife, smiling, told me of a Facebook conversation she had with her sister that morning. She continued about how my sister- in-law had jokingly remarked to one of Janet’s posts, “Enough already, get back here and get a job”, to which Janet said her reply, firmly tongue in cheek, was, “My job is to appreciate the world”.
I LOVED IT.
Of course we joked about our appreciation right then, sweating, tired, lost and about to give up, but I couldn’t stop saying it.
“My job is to appreciate the world”.
It energized me immediately. Suddenly we were laughing, ready to embrace the challenge. When your job is to “appreciate the world”, you don’t allow yourself to get upset.
It was just at that moment, a Honda pulled over and out popped the young man who had given me directions 30 minutes earlier. Jan laughed and said, “We messed up your directions”. He said, “I will drive you”. It might sound strange that we would jump in his car, but when you appreciate the world, you start with it’s people. And we were very appreciative.
He and his girlfriend drove us up a long road, twisting and turning until Jan finally shouted, “Here it is”! The Pinterest picture was before us in real life. After thanking him profusely we were finally there. Jan said, “the directions say it’s just an easy 3-5 minute walk up a slight incline in the road and we will be at the start of the trail”
Slight incline my ass. This was a heart pounding, catch my breath every few moments, stop and rest again and again, “you appreciating the world now?”, mountain trek.
But that’s just it, as I kept repeating, “My job is to appreciate the world” to myself, I wasn’t getting angry. It was more like I was laughing at my situation.
Finally we saw the beginning of the trail.
And like so many wonders in life, once we stepped upon the trail, magic happened. Of course, we were still tired and hot and a bit spent, but the change in scenery, the green forest, the magical orange ties wrapped around the trees, put everything in a different perspective. We walked and climbed and breathed in the lush surroundings and finally, yes, finally, from out of the forest, emerged the sound of monk’s chanting and carved white dragons and a magical hidden Temple. Everything else from earlier just melted away. We sat and meditated, listened to the monks and were invited to share some sweet potatoes and conversation with a monk name Jin.
It didn’t happen the way Jan had planned. It was hard and we had moments of doubt. We couldn’t have done it without the help of others. And we might have quit, had it not been for the “appreciating the world” comment my wife, the guru, had told me.
“My job is to appreciate the world” has now become my new daily practice.
I thought it might help you as well.
You see, it’s tough to get pissed when your job is to appreciate the world.
Oh, you may do something else to make money, but if you think of that as your secondary job, and appreciating the world as your first job, you’ll be amazed at how much more productive and creative you will be.
You see, when you’re “appreciating the world” you don’t get upset, or hassled, or stressed. You remain calmer, and therefore more focused at achieving your goals and desires.
Rest assured, you will get tested.
But if you start repeating that mantra to yourself, you will start appreciating the world. Even when you’re lost and walking a mile back down a mountain road you just walked up.
To Appreciating Your World,
The Laughing Practice
Michael Gross “The Wingman” demonstrates his 1-minute laughing practice.