Dear Friends,

Over lunch, one of the German women at my ashram, who speaks 
little English, looking up, said, "Schmetterling!" After a 
moment, it was divined that the translation of schmetterling
in English is "butterfly." Schmetterlings kept reappearing 
throughout the day-- real ones dancing through leaves, 
the Butterfly pose in yoga class, a large, sequined one on 
the tee-shirt of a Dutch woman at the ashram, and two 
on the cover of the same woman's diary.
 
The German word for caterpillar was offered and quickly 
forgotten, which led to the realization that little 
attention is paid to the process,  the "unfinished" work. 
The journey from caterpillar to butterfly is important, 
just like the preparation for a feast, the writing of 
a novel, and the first brushstroke of a painting are 
important. I have been wondering, as many do, the 
questionof my purpose (dharma). It has dawned on me 
that I need to keep working on the "I," because when
this physical journey ends, one part of the process 
is over, but the becoming continues-- becoming dust, 
becoming a "loving memory," becoming evolved, 
becoming soil so that roses, hibiscuses and daisies
can bloom, becoming the next Self.
 
India. I couldn't have even begun to imagine India-- 
the noisiest, most colorful, dustiest, yet calmest place 
that engages all senses to their highest capacity. It is 
alive every second of the day-- dogs barking, car horns 
blasting, horses braying, vendors calling out,
"Buy vegetables." I was apprehensive to visit, 
because I was warned repeatedly about sexual 
assaults on women, the water on the digestive tract, 
and the mosquitoes. While those are Indian realities, 
they haven't been mine. 

Rishikesh is equal parts Indian women in bright 
orange, pink,red and green saris, beautiful girls 
and boys with the longest lashes imaginable, monks 
in orange, gurus in white, Western seekers, mostly 
from Western Europe (Germany and The Netherlands), 
numerous cows, black dogs, and scooters. It was my 
idea that I'd be at the base of the Himalayas 
experiencing the utmost silence and tranquility-- ha!--
an unstoppable commotion reigns.
 
Yet, I am at peace here. At the ashram, we wake at
5:30 for meditation, followed by yoga, breakfast and
free time; then, lunch, meditation and dinner. In our
free time, if we choose, we can do an Ayurvedic treatment
or yoga again.  A lot of free time. We have internet access
only once a week, though there is an internet cafe in
town, and no one misses it much; nor, do I miss the TV
shows that I thought I would, fish, or chocolate (anymore).
Today's the first day I've used the Internet in a week. 

For the first three days, I was craving chocolate, but 
I've moved past it. Each day through meditation, yoga and
healthy food, I'm feeling an internal quietness that drowns 
out the blaring chaos of the streets, one which I
hope to carry with me throughout my journeys. My search 
for I continues and will continue always in my two newly
found, but intense loves-- Indonesia and India.

photo(1)

Love,
Val