The farthest I’ve ever been from the center of the earth

4,000 meters high, in the Ladakh Mountains in India

Two nights ago, in my slightly delirious state, intense in my concentration on slowing down the incessant pounding of my heart as a result of my minor altitude sickness, I was stopped in my tracks by the stars on my way to the bathroom. They were close enough to touch.

How strange that as my two-month trip is coming to a close, I’m missing being here despite my sporadically acute but always present homesickness.

I’ll miss the freedom of having my life put on hold — a freedom intensified by the lack of outside contact here in Ladakh. I think when I am back, sitting at one of the NYC rooftop bars that I’ve so sorely missed, I’ll miss being surrounded on all sides by mountains, the wind in my hair, tucked into a jacket, nowhere to go, nothing to do, no one to be. No emails to answer, no dinners to go out to, no life plans to execute on.

Just being. Reading. Writing.

As I was trekking yesterday and today, thinking back on my first day and my altitude sickness, I had several moments of wondrous happiness that I was here, doing this.

The value that I’ll get out of this trip is the knowledge that I did it.

I will also, I hope, always remember that a world so unlike my own exists — that there are places my life, my plans, my busy-ness can’t touch. Places that are home to people whose goals are so different from mine.

I’ve loved being here in Ladakh, having all of these quiet moments and introspective conversations — by flashlight, by cliffs, by sprawling meadows.

I have all these plans with people I love for when I get back, but I think I’m loving this feeling of being on the brink of it all more.

How weird to know that although I’m excited to be back in the thick of it all, I will also miss being here intensely.

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  • Jay B. Wilson

    We talk quite frequently about work/life balance. Here you’ve hit upon a further iteration of the theme…is there a broader life balancing that we benefit from? Vacations are often put in the context of our jobs, but I think a bigger benefit is the context it gives to our everyday routines, challenges, and pleasures beyond the workplace.

  • Gregg Hamilton

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and photos. Both are quite surreal.

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