Sunday, November 7, 2010
Sherpa Passang, From Tragedy to Triumph
On our way to Everest Base Camp, we stayed overnight at a tea house in Thamol. As we were sitting around, a man approached me, selling paintings he claimed to have painted himself. What caught my attention though were his hands. On his left hand, all fingers were gone and on the right, only small stubs of his fingers remained.
Having traveled enough in that region, I was skeptical. I "assumed" he had purchased them from some group and was selling them to tourists, capitalizing on their sympathy. While I sent him away, without a sale, something kept nagging me, telling me he was sincere. Unable to put him behind me, I inquired about him and came to know his story.
He was once a Climbing Sherpa, which means he would help climbers get to top of various mountains in the region. And on one of the treks, he had met with an accident and lost his fingers. His story touched my heart so deeply that I requested one of the local men to find his home and take me there, which he did early following morning.
To be perfectly honest, in someway I was looking for answers for myself, for I know all too well the inner struggle one faces when restarting oneself after having a successful career. I wanted to learn from his story, e.g. what he went through after the accident, of all possible careers how did he decide to paint, and how and from where did he find the inner strength to push forth to reestablish himself.
At his home, I met his wonderful family and saw where he lives and works. Given the language challenges, I got some sense of his story over a wonderful cup of tea his wife made for us. At the end of the conversation, I happily purchased one of his largest paintings for to me it's a testimony to the human spirit, how with the right frame of mind one can overcome great adversity.
Today, whenever I look upon my own journey and I feel the emotional ups and downs given the challenges of restarting, I find great strength when I see his painting and when I think of him. Sherpa Passang, you're my hero. Thank you.