and if i could i would go here…
Posted in humanist, nature, tibet March 18th, 2008 by piablog

Please click ‘play’ on the music player below while you read this post, thank you (and be patient if there is a little delay in loading)…

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okay. so this is it. there is no more procrastinating. no more perfecting my words. no more clearing my throat. or doing more research. or reading more literature. or looking at pretty pictures. The truth is I can’t go to this place you see above, or this place you see below…

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… it’s not because I have a broken leg or something. Or because I can’t afford it. No, it is because of something I said.

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But what could I have said that could stop me from going to a place as magical as this? Well, the thing is that I only told one person. I mean, I am no speech maker. I only have a little quiet voice. and it wasn’t made for making loud noises. So I haven’t announced this to an audience. Or even a group of individuals.

Until today.

I can’t visit this place because, well, I made a pact. You know some people get tattoos, or get a second earring hole. Or maybe pierce their nose. Or their tongue. I made a pact. And I declared my pact to this person…

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His name is Tenpa . And he was born in the country I can’t go to. And perhaps I’m crazy to have made a pact to say that I can’t go there, because it is obviously full of the inspiration I crave – full of nature, full of colour, and life, and natural wonders, and full of photo opportunities to say the least. In fact, just like all ethnic cultures that us creatives derive inspiration from, this country and it’s culture is at the height of it all. It is in fact, the rooftop of the world. Yes, I’m talking about magnificent Tibet

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Back in the early ’80’s, when some of us were sporting bubble skirts (yes i confess), and large bangs, and listening to Wham, Tenpa’s mom was walking across those mountains with her 5 year old son on her back. She was escaping. Although she had done nothing wrong except breath which all of us are ‘guilty’ of, she was getting the hell out of there. For 15 days she trekked through that snow. And there were others too. A group of about 10 people, some old, some young. And some died. I often close my eyes and try to imagine being Tenpa’s mom on that mountain top. She would have been about my age. What would I see? Would I look back and whisper goodbye to my home? And as I struggle through the snow with nothing but the clothes on my back and my son at my heels, what would I be thinking as I watched others on my same path lay down of exhaustion and die? If it was me I would be scared out of my wits. But something must have been scarier behind Tenpa’s amala than in front of her, otherwise she would never have made the trip. No woman, man or child in their right mind would make that trip without a good bloody, freakin’ scary reason.

So baby Tenpa made it to India alive and so did his amala. But not for long, she lasted ‘in freedom’ for only five years, and died when he was ten.

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Fast forward to the year two thousand and Tenpa arrives in Sydney, stepping off a plane for the first time in his life. He’s been granted a special visa to live in Australia thanks to his Dad who endured over 14 years of imprisonment and brutal torture in China for being a Tibetan monk. And yes he was a special sort of monk, he was a Rinpoche. For us novices of Buddhism this means he was a reincarnation.

Now, I’m no Buddhist so I won’t go off on a tangent and pretend that I know anything about monks and reincarnation. But I do know I’ve met many people in my little 30 years on this planet and I can assure you that Tenpa’s pala is without a doubt the gentlest person I have ever met in my life. He has not even lifted a finger to kill a mosquito sucking on his arm. In fact, while he endures the sting from the blood sucking creature he just smiles at me. I can imagine why too, that sting must feel like a kiss compared to what he has endured in his lifetime.

So under miraculous circumstances, Tenpa and my life crossed paths, and we’ve been crossing and weaving each others paths ever since. And that is when I made the pact. My reasoning was simple – for as long as Tibetans are not free to come and go from their own country, then nor am I. I made a pact that I would not go there until Tibet was safe. More poignantly, saved.

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Which brings me back to this post. We all know Tibet has been in turmoil for the last 50 years. We all know that it is in the media right now. And we all know why. So just like I put Africa in the Spotlight in light of the horrific-ness of what was happening in Kenya two months ago, the time has come to put Tibet in the spotlight. For some reason it is harder for me to get these words out about Tibet. And I can’t discuss the brutality that is going on right now because it makes me vomit. It has taken me many hours to even get these words out and onto this post.

But since I’m in the habit of making pacts, what the hell, I’m making another one. I am no Steven Spielberg, Björk, Tina Turner, or Richard Gere. But I am the friend of this man. And he is the friend of this man. And his people need us. And lets be honest, are we not sick of hearing about the abuse of human rights in the 21st century? I don’t want to hear about another Tibetan nun shot dead. Or see another photo of a young, unarmed Tibetan protester shot dead. I want to hear that our voices are being heard and we can make this world a better and safer place. And to do that I will be showcasing Tibet and everything and everyone inspirational connected with it here in the (blog)house along with all our other wonderful design finds from around the globe. Tibet will now be an official part of the (blog)house until everyone in Tibet and associated with Tibet is safe. And in the meantime, I stand by my friend while his voice echoes through the loud speakers. He does have a louder voice than me after all. There is no doubt you will be seeing Tenpa on the TV and in the papers in Australia and the world in the months to come. And it will be for all the right reasons. But my wish is that one fine day, my pact will be met and I will travel to Tibet with my best friend and have Tibetan tea in a place just like this…

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All Tibet images courtesy of L’Internaute.

Photos of Tenpa la courtesy of Tenpa la and Jamie Williams.

And music by none other than the very talented Tenzin Cheogyal. Click here to visit his website, and here to download free mp3’s like this one you are listening to – another example of how generous the Tibetan people are.

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43 Comments

  1. Machteld says

    Pia, I know your blog is meant to inspire yourself and others. This post didn`t inspire me, it touched me real deep down. Thank you for whispering about this – I heard you loud and clear.

    March 18th, 2008 | #

  2. Romain says

    I read here and there people trying to find excuses for what is happening in Tibet. There is no excuse. and Tibetans don’t even want to go back to the way things were 60 years ago, they want to be free and stopped being teated like second class citizens. Obviously it is still asking too much in 2008 and our “champions of freedom” in the west are afraid to speak up. Great post.

    March 18th, 2008 | #

  3. Esti says

    Thanks for putting so much sentiments into words. I agree with all you said; repression of tibetan people should end. It cannot be just another story in the news.

    March 18th, 2008 | #

  4. Stephanie Ryan says

    I have no words…just thank you.

    My prayers are there as we speak.
    Ponder this… our thoughts unified can change this.

    March 19th, 2008 | #

  5. Marissa says

    I think your heart wandered into mine today. I can’t explain how touching and heartbreaking your post was. What an amazing woman, Tenpa’s mom was, and your friend and his father are.

    Thank you for using your voice for goodness and to help others.

    March 19th, 2008 | #

  6. corine@HiddenInFrance says

    Shit. I’m not going there either. What an amazing Odyssey. There can still be a happy ending but not as long as we sit on our butts.

    March 19th, 2008 | #

  7. anne says

    this has made me so sad, too! it is just unbelievable and incomprehensible. suppressing people just sucks!

    thank you for saying so well what i thought in the last couple of days!

    March 19th, 2008 | #

  8. marie says

    je suis d’accord evec vous..things need to change, its been far too long..i hope you visit tibet very very soon!

    March 19th, 2008 | #

  9. d. Sharp says

    Thank you so much for this.

    March 19th, 2008 | #

  10. Mary-Laure says

    This is a very moving post. Thank you for always keeping an eye on the plight of others around the world, in addition to your cool posts about fun topics…

    March 19th, 2008 | #

  11. Pia says

    thank you everyone for your comments, so very appreciated as it was very hard for me to write. I have a few video links that have just come in, for those who are interested in learning a little more:

    Tenpa on sky news: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5WzgUMpGEI

    Another interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1UVB0Zi6wo

    A good article in French, describing why the Chinese absolutely want Tibet – the article in brief, says they want it for its water (as Tenpa said in sky news interview), gold, copper and lead: http://www.liberation.fr/actualite/monde/316476.FR.php

    March 19th, 2008 | #

  12. Pia says

    and if some of you are wondering what you can do right this minute, there is a petition you can sign to show your support:

    http://www.avaaz.org/en/tibet_end_the_violence/3.php

    As I’ve said before, for us it is just a click of a button and our name, but for others it is their life. xx

    March 19th, 2008 | #

  13. Ingrid says

    Pia, I’m not in the habit of posting comments but I couldn’t help but react to your post. You are a fantastic writer with a great perspective on the world. Thank you for raising consciousness on the abuses in Tibet and for introducing readers to Tenpa. Truly inspirational.

    March 19th, 2008 | #

  14. Anna Spiro says

    A very sad yet inspiring post Pia – I have tears in my eyes!
    X
    Anna

    March 19th, 2008 | #

  15. mansuetude says

    this is wonderful… reminds me of hearing the Dali Lama talk about escaping in the fog, it was something funny about wearing glasses… he has such a humor in such seriousness.

    peace to all this, and thank you.

    March 19th, 2008 | #

  16. Pia says

    thank you so much Ingrid – to learn that you are not in the habit of commenting but were compelled to comment on this post means so very much to me, thank you. your words have touched me deeply.

    Anna – I am now in tears to know that you have them too! I am now in the habit of listening and reading this post when I have a quiet moment, it seems to calm and sooth me, i think it is tenzin’s beautiful song and the pictures.

    Mansuetude – the Dalai Lama has a wonderful sense of humour indeed, and always s smile even at times like this! Tenpa is the same – you can see in that sky news interview that he always finds a smile which is so big. and with his smile he always makes me smile, even at times like this.

    Thank you again everyone – your comments on this post are so special. xx

    March 19th, 2008 | #

  17. sofia says

    Pia I was in Paris yesterday so I couldn’t comment here.
    Just read your post with the music for background, went to Tenpa’s blog and I want you to know that I so much agree with everything you wrote here. When I was a teenager I read a lot of books about boudhism and Dalai-Lama, I have no religion but the only one I feel more next to, is boudhism, because of their philosophy of life and their way of respecting each life on earth.
    I can’t even think that we are in 2008 and that there is still people on this earth trying to exterminate a people.
    Thank you for the article of Liberation, it really explaines so well the situation but it also indicates that the genocide it’s not yet to finish.
    But while there’s life there’s hope and
    Thank you for this post and as we can read on Tenpa’s blog “almost everything you do will seem insignifiant, but it is important that you do it” Ghandi.
    I’ve just signed the petition.

    March 19th, 2008 | #

  18. jo says

    thank you for your words, his story, the sounds, and our hearts…

    March 19th, 2008 | #

  19. nyla says

    Thank you for this, Pia. Beautifully done. This morning, I read a deeply disturbing article about the (same old) dirty tricks being used by the Chinese gov’t to marginalize the Dalai Lama. This is a very delicate situation. My hopes and prayers are with the Tibetan people. (I’m about to post the AVAAZ petition on my blog as well.) Emotionally/spiritually, I’m trying to frame this situation as if it’s happening for a reason, that something good will come of this conflict for Tibetans.

    Has anybody noticed there is a lot of dirt being ‘kicked up’ around the globe in the usual hot spots, Israel/Palestine, Tibet/China, Yugoslavia, and more…. ? Old cycles and patterns. When this scary situation with regard to Tibet and China popped up in the headlines the other day, I was not surprised. It seems the re-emerging of revolutionary energy is happening all over the place. (It’s just starting to bubble here in the states with regard to our Presidential election.) I feel like something BIG is brewing for the world on an energetic level. We shall see. In the mean time, I’m singing that Bjork song with you, Pia… and look forward to more of your posts celebrating Tibet.

    March 20th, 2008 | #

  20. josephine says

    pia, with your “little quiet voice” you’ve managed to speak so eloquently and passionately on this horrific injustice and touch the hearts of everyone who reads this post.

    March 20th, 2008 | #

  21. Tenpa says

    Thank you. My thoughts goes out to all Tibetans who are being tortured, raped, killed and so forth in Tibet’s prison while i am writing this comment.
    X

    March 20th, 2008 | #

  22. Pia says

    Thank you Tenpa, I know how hard it is right now for you and your family and friends, but please know that we are all with you. It is us who thank you for being so inspirational, and voicing what we feel inside.

    Nyla, yes indeed, I for one have noticed the energy and am rolling with it, it feels like postive change is all around us, we just all have to stand up with it!

    Thanks again everyone, if comments could change the world, I think yours do.

    March 20th, 2008 | #

  23. Ann says

    Oh Pia, that is beautiful. I was in tears, knowing Tenpa and how hard he works for the Tibetan people.
    Keep well and we look forward to seeing you soon.
    With love
    Tashi Delek
    Ann

    March 21st, 2008 | #

  24. dana says

    Pia,
    Thank you for your words..your passion, your guts. I was so moved by this post. You can tell it came from your heart.. and you have touched so many of our hearts! More importantly…your courage, I belive, has made people want to ACT. thank you.
    dana

    March 21st, 2008 | #

  25. Cate says

    Prayers for His Holiness, for Tenpa, and the Tibetan people. Thank-you, Pia, May you be well, may you be happy, may you be at ease and know peace.

    March 22nd, 2008 | #

  26. sonrie says

    Free Tibet.

    Beautiful.

    Thank you.

    March 22nd, 2008 | #

  27. pia says

    I can’t thank you all enough for your support. Here are some more links that have just come in – Tenpa on Channel 9’s Sunday show this morning:

    http://video.msn.com/video.aspx/?mkt=en-au&brand=ninemsn&tab=s29&mediaid=123017&from=39&vid=E5F4EAFD-F2A5-4BDF-B226-37144089C3AD&playlist=videoByTag:mk:en-AU:vs:0:tag:aunews_ausunday:ns:MSNVideo_Top_Cat:ps:10:sd:-1:ind:1:ff:8A&wa=wsignin1.0

    and in France, many mayors are authorising Tibetan flags to replace national flags at the town halls during this fragile time, here is one in beautiful Nancy:

    http://www.lepost.fr/visuel/2008/03/21/1168707_le-drapeau-du-tibet-flotte-sur-la-mairie-de-nancy.html

    March 23rd, 2008 | #

  28. Vic says

    I do not know what to say other than thank you. This must’ve been hard to write but I hope you know how many people it will inspire and ultimately help. You are treasured.

    March 23rd, 2008 | #

  29. Yoli says

    I signed the pettition. I hope one day you and your friend will go there to have tea. There are no easy answers as much as I love the Chinese and what they have given me, this totally repulses me.

    March 25th, 2008 | #

  30. cybele says

    wonderful blog pia!

    March 25th, 2008 | #

  31. pia says

    An excellent TV interview by the brilliantly blunt George Negus on SBS’s Dateline, with former Canadian MP and human rights lawyer, David Kilgour, here is the link:

    http://video.sbs.com.au/player/news/index.php?mmid=7796&chid=13

    thank you everyone for signing the petition and for keeping your comments coming! i will comment here when i get news until i put the next tibet-inspired post up.

    Also note: 53% of the French are in favor of having their President Nicolas Sarkozy boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympics. and many town halls are displaying the Tibetan flag all over the country. GO the French!! Now if we can encourage Rudd to put his Mandarin speaking skills to good use.

    xx

    March 25th, 2008 | #

  32. achilles3 says

    I’ve only been part of the blogging community now (writing and reading) for about a year but I just wanted to say that this post was one of the most powerful I have ever read. You are a heartfelt storyteller my friend and as a 30 year old myself i simply want to say thank you.

    Free Tibet!

    March 26th, 2008 | #

  33. pia says

    Thank you so so much Achille3. What a beautiful comment. I am very thankful for all comments from new readers and regular readers, it gives me hope.

    Everyone here is another video from BBC news where the protesting has started at the core of the Olympic Torch Relay in Olympia in Greece. This footage has not been shown in China in fact it was strategically cut from what was televised. You can see one of the peaceful protestors with a Tibetan flag who is aggressively knocked down and out of camera view – I don’t understand why people choose to turn a blind eye to this obvious repression, and that is seems acceptable that this man be belted by a policeman for peacefully (he used no force whatsoever) ‘disrupting’ the relay. Is that not completely hypocritical?!! This is only the beginning! It really reminds me of parents who turn a blind eye to their bullying child (i saw a funny but black episode of this on King of The Hill just yesterday!)

    Anyway, here is video:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_7310000/newsid_7311100/7311125.stm?bw=bb&mp=wm&asb=1&news=1&bbcws=1

    And on a side note, here is the link to the description of the King of the Hill episode:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hank%27s_Bully

    March 26th, 2008 | #

  34. danielle says

    Thanks so much for doing this Pia! I am still on holiday with limited access to internet so I could not comment any sooner. I have linked to your post on the style files in the hope to spread the word!

    March 28th, 2008 | #

  35. MamaShift says

    Pia,

    I’m not sure which path I took to get here, but I’m glad I stumbled around the web to find your blog. Beautiful, much-needed post!

    PS You and Tenpa could always go to Kyrgyzstan — so many similarities in the landscape!

    March 31st, 2008 | #

  36. Samatha says

    I think you all don’t know the real truth before you say this words!
    You can see the truth on this web site.
    http://anti-cnn.com/

    April 1st, 2008 | #

  37. pia says

    hi samantha,

    If this is an attempt to create a competition on which media culture is the most biased, this blog is not the place for it.

    As you can read from this post, it is my personal account about someone I know and care about. And so yes, I know the real truth.

    Thank you for your comment nonetheless.

    April 3rd, 2008 | #

  38. Samatha says

    hi pia,
    First,thanks so much for you haven’t delete my comment.

    Then ,i can understand what your recept is.And it’s such a big grief to me too,and to all the Chinese people .But ,you know,there isn’t only one reason when a thing is happening,and what is the real thing? no one can say it.One can say it is A,and others can say it B…Maybe all are true ,it’s only because the diffrent angle of view ,or we haven’t see the whole thing ourselves.
    i say this just because i love Tibet,love China.And there are so much untrue reports about Tibet in the world.i am very warried about it,i think everyone who love Tibet shoud know the real and whole things.

    April 3rd, 2008 | #

  39. pia says

    hi samantha, thank you and i am happy you left a comment with your thoughts, i would never delete it as that would be hypocritical in my belief that everyone has a right to free speech. If you were aggressive and hostile then yes i would not post it as to do so would be hypocritical in my belief that no one should be allowed to bully and hurt someone else who is just exercising their right to free speech.

    I love China too, I have always loved the chinese people and chinese culture. So you can imagine as i grew up and learnt more I was very confused about the situation – how a country and people that I love so much can be at the very same time cruel to each other and their neighbours. Its like seeing another side of a loved one come into your reality, when prior to that moment you had thought they were the most fabulous person in the world. It has taken me many years and alot of research to get a true honest grasp of it and as I’ve gotten to know many Chinese and many Tibetans in my life, I have a much better understanding of how and why.

    I believe in basic human rights – of any human, be them poor, rich, with one leg, with three legs, starving, obese, whichever country they may be born from, and from whomever parents…I do not believe someone should ever have to suffer the consequences of someone else’s obscured intentions. And I think this is not too much to ask of each human, be them the man in the field or the man who owns the field. Nor do I think it is an idealism. And you know where I learnt the importance and possibilty of this self-determination? Chinese philosophy.

    So, please be assured that I love the Chinese too. And I will also be posting about China as part of my Tibet posts – remember I mentioned that I would be posting about all things attached to Tibet, and that includes China and the inspiration that abounds from there.

    April 3rd, 2008 | #

  40. Olive says

    Whilst reading Sofia’s blog i saw beautiful pictures and needed to find out where they were from. such a beautiful place(surely an understatement, terrible things are happening there. Nothing changes really, politican’s speak and ……. yes thats right, a lot of hot air. It still amazes me how people can turn on their own, it makes you wonder sometimes how human kind has lasted this long. I will think positive thoughts for your friend and his country. Not much perhaps, but every little bit helps.

    April 30th, 2008 | #

  41. alex says

    What a beautiful and touching story about an inspirational people – thank you so much for sharing this story. I so hope that these wonderful people have their own country back one day but as water becomes as precious and valuable as oil I worry that they may not.
    You write a wonderful story.

    February 15th, 2010 | #

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