Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's a small plane that takes off for Bhutan.

The travel catalogues forecast a place of endless enchantment and mystery. The home of thunder dragons and national happiness. The privilege of what I do envelopes me absolutely.

I think next of my work, and life - one as if the other, the sequence masking more than it may illuminate. The work: Climate change. I'm to help write among the first assessments of its impacts and the scale of the needed response for the challenge in a small, landlocked country in the Himalayas.

How do you weigh the pebbles of modernity against those of tradition on the balance of human progress? City life versus rural? Better standards of living versus culture and life itself? That seems the riddle to unravel.

It's a place lucky even for the tourist; I arrive as an invited analyst. Traveling mid-2011, I carry Fukuyama's 'The origins of political order.' It makes me wonder: what secrets are to be uncovered from the Bhutanese mind and landscape.

Time, and peace. They seem the only things on offer - the only things that matter. Deep in the heart of the promise is that these are the very stuff of life, humanity missing the message every, elsewhere. Is it only so much spin, though, for excuse and tourism dollar?

The excuse: to keep at bay the wanton tragedies of the new, the future and modern. The dollars, for the complacency and hypocrisy of it all. An economy owing much to its tourist vision of tradition, temples, green forests and such.

Twenty-four days in the sands of gross happiness, forgotten sites of modernity/tradition, and loneliness to look forward to. In context the average tourist visit peters out at day five, rare the marker of day 10. What more, with over $200 a head per night to be here as a site-seer. I've walked before the expanse of the capital in naught more than a quarter hour - as if exhausting the currency of the city in minutes.

Days of jet-lag and not knowing the time overcome me. Should I remain wide awake or succumb to a desired eternity of sleep and dream?

The origins of political order indeed. Aspirations of man and beast alike; the authority of invented rules against the passions of love, prejudice and the realities of the possible. Where else but to play out the infinite surge of life and death, but at the hallmark of a country left at the thresholds of past and present.

Where else to find the wanting answers for the stage of oneself; one's life; to locate the regality of meaning for a future left open to choice. Escape utter nothingness and too much robustness at once.

And then, simply, breakfast arrives - to temper the treasures of the possible with the gifts of always. My loose thoughts reign themselves in with a decent meal.

To be here by the chances of so much fate. Bend my will to the grace of god. I'm not a religious man, but these are the prayer filled tones that color me over.

And, the plane lands.

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