AOMusic went to Nepal with five young people in August. We recorded children who are singing on our new album to be released in 2013. This is our fundraising trailer for a documentary that we hope you will all support.
AOMusic went to Nepal with five young people in August. We recorded children who are singing on our new album to be released in 2013. This is our fundraising trailer for a documentary that we hope you will all support.
Our AO team has finished their 12 day trek to Nepal. Karan and his attendant Baldev have returned to India, Jessie and Rob have landed in Raleigh NC after a 33 hour flight from Kathmandu. And Josh has decided to stay on and trek to the Maratika Caves for spiritual retreat. The entire trip was nothing short of miraculous.
These young people were recording Nepalese Children and filming this process that AO has gone through for over the past decade in order for world music to be created through AOMUSIC and proceeds from this music can go to benefiting the children themselves. And the team filmed…themselves as a team. Interviewing each other from the moment they met at the Kathmandu Airport for the first time, to the day they parted company just a few days ago.
On their last day together, exhausted and spent, they all decided to wake each other up at 3:30 am and trek two hours up to the Himalayas to record their last interview with one another, as the sun rose. Their dedication every step of the way was constant.
Now the footage goes to Seattle where it will be edited and a short film will be created for fundraising. The recordings are with Richard Gannaway who will continue to finalize the last songs for AO’s new album to be released in 2013.
So, after a few bumps this week in my road, I am finally introducing you to the person on the team who was indispensable. Josh Massad. I met Josh three years ago in Tulsa Oklahoma. Instantly I knew him to be a rare individual possessing a deep compassion and spirituality that filled the room the minute he entered. Josh is a musician, taught children around the world music filled with love and joy. But, I was never able to get to really know him other that first etched impression. I moved away from Tulsa and he left for India.
Then one night only weeks ago I woke up around 2 am and instantly, his face was right in front of me as if he were in the room. His radiant smile reminded me of all that I had felt on our first meeting. I sat up and knew immediately that I had to find him, that I had to tell him what was about to happen in Nepal. I had no idea why but it was clear I needed to act. But where was he? I tracked him down through friends in Tulsa and found he was in Goa, India. My email began with, “I hope you remember me…and I have no idea why I need to write you…but”.
Following this “impulse” and vision in the night has led to Josh being an integral part of our team. But his response to my email was stunning, having no idea that when I wrote to him he had a story of his own. Here is a little of that story and his first email to me back in July:
“How should I respond to such an email? And one that is found during an intuitive search thru my junk mail – on a rainy evening?
How do we react when our back hurts?
How do we react to painlessness?
And when a child cries? Or when a child laughs?
When one is born? Or when one dies gracefully in old age?
How about when God answers our prayers..?
well… here goes.
Quick response to your idea about joining AO: Yes, in my most humble manners – I too have so much to share with the world! I believe our goals are One. Count me In! Tikrami! At Your Service!
And here is the rest of my story:
Today, we are celebrating a festival for cobras here in india. I don’t know the details yet, probably Shiva’s Cobra that he often wears around his neck is honored (as a god). The cobras are said to come out and even into our homes but we are safe if respectful and by making prayer hands. All the temples are playing great music and lighting Agarbathi (incense).
I have been living in Goa for the last 6 months. I am so intrigued by Goa’s ‘Hindu Christianity’. Goa is also known as “India-lite” and for this reason: Though there is poverty and plenty of orphans and tons and tons of trash – it is nothing compared to the rest of india – save one state that I love more than Goa much due to its cleanliness, spirituality & music; Kerala.
I ruptured a disc in my lower back while mid-flight from Chicago to Delhi 6 months ago exactly. Which also means that my 6-month Visa expires in 4 days! I had been considering doing what many people do and go to Nepal for a while and then reenter India on a new visa. What timing.
After the rupture, I successfully took my train from Delhi to Mumbai on Feb 2nd where I was to record a big festival concert featuring some of the greatest percussionists and musicians in India and the world. Maybe you remember the band Shakti, who began in 1974. Anyway, times were tough for me, and eventually I had an MRI that frightened most doctors.
Continuing on, Feb 14th, I came to Goa to tour with a world music ensemble, Emam & Friends, played only one concert and then became paralyzed, spending the next 5 weeks in bed only. One daily visit to the toilet left me the rest of the day to contemplate pain. Eventually I renounced my ego-causing attachment to pain all together!
It has taken me 6 months to heal naturally. With great help from Ayurveda, I am healed! All the others told me surgery is inevitable – though I trusted them as respectable doctors, I didn’t hear that they knew me, or better – the God who resides within me – who I was and still am so determined to know and Love.
When I first came to Varanasi in 2008, I found myself among a 5,000 year old civilization. I had to be part of it, I had to learn, I had to contribute. And that is when ‘Teaching My Ancestors’ established a month of village school visits, laughing and playing with my young ancestors. The greater international project took the name, World Through Music.
Each winter I have returned to my growing student body here – last year we taught in 9 Indian states. I am learning so much from these kids, they give me the opportunity to experience love – I and the project are Empowering them! And I am hoping to master the art of ‘wordless communication’ that is peaceful and Creative! The school is a forum for sharing.
I was taught a ‘song of welcome’ from Liberia – by my teachers 15 years ago – and do they know, does anyone know that thousands and thousands of kids in India are still singing that song today, years after I shared it them, they still have the purity of welcoming in their hearts. I know this because I return to them a year later – and they sing me this song that traveled from Africa to America to them and has most likely reached the cosmos by now, within their hearts, as One Soul.
Each Spring and Autumn, (accept this Spring I was here in bed) I am in Tulsa teaching and sharing my international experiences with American students.
It became so clear to me that these students are the leaders of our future and that now is my time to do my work, but soon I will be old and they will determine the fate of the world. With all these weapons and temptations/distractions, we need to train our community in self-control (pratyahara – yoga) and appropriate action.
Then my work must be to train these kids. All around the world, it was clear to me that most kids are not receiving proper training. Even in the USA where there is some investment in education, what are we teaching? – – are we teaching life, community, and the beauty of breath, silence, sound, universality, freedom, freedom in death, healing one another? Or often just the opposite?
Like AOMUSIC, I believe these children, all of them, will influence our future world, TOGETHER. So give them something in common with their international peers, introduce them, teach them community, empower them that they know their responsibility, to family, that family need not be limited to common languages, etc.
What could be easier, more beautiful to access Truth, expression, inclusion, spontaneity, “peaceful & creative forms of communication”, than art? And music is sound, healing that everyone loves. Through Music I have learned about the world, and so thru music, I will do my work teaching Truth to the world. Yoga also, music and yoga teach me patience, control, unbounded love and forgiveness and keep me alive, connected, healthy and inspired.
How can I further this international community? In 2010, I worked with a Tulsa school for one month, teaching them all these things, yoga(union), breathing(awareness), music(expression) (determination) and then we built instruments, played them in a shared musical experience. Then our students, knowing I was off to teach in India – offered their made & blessed instruments to my Indian students which I carry everywhere with me.
Off I went to India with 24 Rainsticks on my back as an ambassador to offer these kids a chance to know themselves better, and their connection to the world, to their peers – through the gift of Music.
I began recording my classes only a few years ago. Video and audio. (more equipment to carry) but also thankfully, more people to hire and get involved with. That is what I know I need, more people, more participation. I have been forced to work alone dear Maya for most of my professional career and it is such a blessing, all my dreams are clear, I work diligently and find creative ways to succeed – but this one man trying to raise an international family is hard work. I need community that which I teach of that is family! All I have to do is what I do best, Inspire and Encourage.
But my back finally gave up supporting all my issues – and the project has been halted again – (another disadvantage of a one-man show). I haven’t anymore money. I need sponsorship. All of Tulsa supports me – but I don’t have experience asking for money. I missed $5,000 of work in april/may/june in Tulsa schools with a tour I created called ‘Beats To Bridge’ connecting the American student with our Indian students. That work took years of preparation and was crucial to my survival. Now in debt with hospital bills and haven’t any plane tickets home or even money to pay musicians here to contribute to the album now that I am healthy again. My life is just now starting over – I feel like I have been given another chance to live, to pray, to celebrate, to Inspire, to Serve!
All of the dreams remain – even have been further empowered – there is not a doubt in my mind that my ‘dreams’ or my ‘service’ need be fulfilled. I don’t feel necessarily attached, only that I need to survive to serve and I should continue with a well-conceived plan.
Since the last month or two, I have been approaching Dzogchen Monastery nearby in Karnatika and hoping I could spend a month there meditating and internalizing the Sacred Sounds of Prayer. I offered to produce recordings of their prayers if they pleased to raise money for them. I haven’t yet been formally invited, and today my visa is the biggest issue.
Then your email arrives Maya. The timing …well….perfect. Our goals are one dear Maya! And our means are quite similar. Your team has decades more experience and accomplishment than myself. I come in humble admiration.
I am willing to reserve my plans with calm or give up any attachments if my path was meant to lead us to collaborate – of course I surrender. I have not foolish or proud or selfish intentions. India and America are two of the greatest teachers especially in combination. I am forever a student. One of my most recent lessons is to protect myself and that God within me.
Whenever The Mother calls, I shall answer.
If I can assist on your project in any way, I would be most honored and appreciative. To work with you and this wonderful family of humans and musicians that you mention is obviously a great blessing which will help me fulfill my own destiny.”
Josh proved to be, as I lovingly refer to him, the Yoda of our team. He brought his suitcase of instruments for the children to play wherever the team was. He supported the team when they were exhausted with joy and patient listening, he helped Rob with all the recordings and Jessie with sound. Josh was a spiritual backbone for our project in Nepal.
My learning was simple and powerful: To listen to my dreams, to follow that inner nudge, that fleeting glimpse of something that you cannot know why it crossed your mind and to trust the process as it unfolds. To count my intuition as valuable as any asset I possess. If I had not acted on that nighttime urging, seeing Josh’s face and not knowing why, our trip to Nepal would have been quite different. Josh became the glue that held the vision together. How could I have known that?
So please tune into this next step of filmmaking. The team that has once again miraculously assembled themselves is another magical story to tell. And you know me. It is all in the story.
“Robin Tamang is arguably the biggest rock star in Nepal. Initially, he started out with Robin and Looza. Later, he formed a new band, The New Revolution, by handpicking each member. Five albums already under his belt, he is coming out with his sixth studio album Hamro Desh.” Robin has a passion for music and children and invited the AO Team to leave Chitwan and return to Kathmandu to work with children in an Orphanage that he works with there. Here is the story from one of the team: Rob Lenfesty
“We arrived back in Kathmandu after the long and bumpy bus ride. The road to Kathmandu winds perilously along the side of steep, jungled mountainsides with a cold blue river raging far below. The road is narrow and often has no protection from the thousand feet of drop. Following the somewhat morbid but expected thought of how often a vehicle goes off the side, I caught a glimpse of a tangled, twisted metal chunk of bygone bus on the rocks below. Ok, better to enjoy the stunning beauty and leave that thought behind!!
We arrived at the guesthouse that I inhabited not even two years ago on my last visit. Coming back here has felt like a true full circle. Especially when my friend and Nepali rock hero Robin Tamang came roaring in on his Royal Enfield Motorbike to meet with us. Robin had agreed to be our host to an orphanage he has been working with closely for the last 9 years. Two years ago I played an inspirational show with Robin and his band The New Revolution for the kids at this very place.
Robin has the uncanny presence of a rock star wherever he goes; he is passionately dedicated to the Nepali people and to the hearts and minds of the children. Thus this man has made children the target of his work. He believes that the key to changing the failing infrastructure of this nation is to touch the minds and hearts of the kids now. And he is doing it as well as it could be done. You can see the love and starstruck awe in the eyes of every Nepali we see as we make our way to the orphanage.
We arrive through the gate and are immediately swarmed with kids. The older ones remember me quite well, and all are enthusiastic to see Robin; not as a rockstar, as he has been a frequent uncle-like figure since many of them were in diapers. They love him with the complete child-like adoration for a beloved relative. Where the kids in Chitwan were not as touchy-feely, we quickly found the opposite here in Kathmandu. The loping game I played in Chitwan very quickly became eight or nine kids vying for real estate on my arms, shoulders and back. Thus wearing a full, squirming suit of children I would try to move in any way possible. Needless to say I got my exercise!
This orphanage, NAG, has been run by a Swiss woman named Nicole for 20 years. Her work has been remarkable; the grounds of the school are beautiful and some of her first children are now the teachers and managers of the school. She finds children with either no parents or incapacitated parents and gives them more than just a second chance, she gives them access to one of the most diverse and best educations they could hope for. With the help of Robin they even have an entire music room with keyboard, drums, guitars and more! These children are truly blessed, and have seen the darker side of what life can offer as well. This balanced experience augments the delight that shines from their eyes so that they radiate a zest and vigor that inspires.
We gathered a group of the younger kids together to teach them the two songs we were to record. Robin stepped into the performers role beautifully and guided them through the syllables that he himself had just learned. The kids took to both songs written by Richard Gannaway enthusiastically and in no time we were recording them in chorus. We recorded individuals as long as their attention spans could handle and then played with them some more. We left and promised to return the next day.
The Next day found more of the same. While I was not recording I can honestly say I had at least two kids strapped to my arms or back, minimum, at all times. I found a game that proved to be more restful with a group of around 12 boys. I would simply fall in any direction and they would push me back up to standing. I got to a point where I could trust them well and would fall rapidly in any direction, at which they would (usually) catch me before hitting the ground. Even as we loaded up into our taxi to leave I had kids clinging on to me. It was sad to leave!
We decided to go directly to Durban Square, the historic and ancient center of the city. There we were greeted by statues and pagoda like temples with intricate wooden carvings, and the white stone Royal Palace. We explored the ancient city for a while as normal people would, though I was itching to play with this place on a more creative level.. I found some lion statues and began to find ways to do yoga poses on and with them; developing quite a crowd in the process! I played with a few of the kids in the square too, some were imitating my yoga, others showing off their break dancing skills. We played at this and other games until the sun set and it was time to go.
Unconventional interactions with my environment always seem to lighten up any place I find myself. I was able to interact with an entire group of people who would have been normal passerby’s if I hadn’t stopped to turn the world on its head for a moment. I hold sacred the opportunities to imbue the creative essence of this life with the environment and people around me. If one person smiles as a result then it is a success. My hope is that others may be inspired to look at the world they live in with the imagination we were born with, sidestepping the conventions we have learned to take for granted.
We found our rest back at Tibet Guest house, another beautiful and active day in Kathmandu for AOMUSIC.”
In my hope to write every day about the trip five young people are on in Nepal, life broke in and tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Remember about making God Laugh? Throw your plans out the window and go to NYC”. So, two days later I did and I am now in NYC with my daughter Sasha. Hot. Loud. Crazy New York City. There is no other place like it…except maybe Kathmandu.
Each day I surf the moment and the time zones and field so many details of producing, from more ATM machines that are down or changes of plans, budget problems or little details that at the end of the day don’t amount to a hill of beans next to the depth of the journey for all of the Team in Nepal, representing AOMUSIC.
So, I will try to catch up and the only way to do that is to make this entry be all about the day in the life of our AO Ambassador, Rob Lenfestey who has shared a story with me. I will write more tomorrow about the last person on the Team. Our own Yoda. By now your curiosity is peeked, so look for new blog entry and a story you will not believe. It is all about navigating life by intuition and instinct, a skill we could all cultivate.
Enjoy Rob’s words:
“My dreams thus far have been potent down here in the humid Nepali Jungle: I asked in my dream “So what does happiness look like? And was shown some flashing scenes and images in my head. “What does clarity look like then?” and another image. “love?” “Friendship?” And on it went.
Then I asked “What does God look like?” and the door slammed open to my Guest House Room. “Rob”, came Josh’s voice through the glass pane, “Rhino!” And so it was; gracing the river bank below. The first wild example of its kind to grace our team with its presence. It even had the requisite black birds gracing its massive armor-like back and horn.
By 7am we had eaten our breakfast and loaded up into our transport with Raj and headed to two different impoverished villages full of kids to catch of glimpse of how they lived.
Before we even arrived in the first village, comprised of two long buildings that faced each other with a muddy courtyard in between, we were already being chased down by laughing barefooted children. The locals were amiable and smiled, clasping their hands in “namaste” to greet us. The kids, however, simply piled up on top of each other to get in front of us. Once Karan brought out the big film camera, the ensuing kid pile was hilarious to watch. Karan flipped the view-screen around and this delighted them the most; now they were watching themselves on the screen. The gestures and experiments that ensued as each kid eagerly pushed themselves within the field of the camera and watched themselves live was adorable and thoroughly entertaining.
We went to look into their living quarters, which were small rooms split from one long building that comprised an entire half of the small village. In these small 12×12 ft. rooms some 12 person families lived, cooked and slept. Each room was impeccably clean and the space outside in the courtyard, while muddy, was free of trash and filth typical to urban impoverished areas.
We went to their well where one of the mothers was cleaning cookware. This is where the ice broke between the myself and the Children. I was walking behind the well’s concrete platform and began to slip on the slick algae that grows there. I caught myself and didn’t fall, but instead turned it into a kind of gliding dance. The children laughed and so I kept dancing some more. Eventually this dance erupted from the well and culminated in me loping around chasing them through the village. As this play continued I was struck by a certain beautiful truth that brought a deeper gravity to this project and its importance.
At its roots, AOMusic is for the creation of world music. World music crosses cultures and brings them together, celebrating both our diversity and the immutable humanity we all share. And so it makes perfect sense that we should build the foundation of such work on that which binds us. And nothing exemplifies the unity of the human race than the faces, laughter and songs of the children.
It dawned on me that you can change the set and setting as drastically as you want; from Lower Manhattan to the rural jungles of Nepal and you will always find kids. Kids smiling, kids playing and chasing each other around whatever environment they find themselves in. And if you took any of those kids and transplanted them in the other place it would take barely seconds for new friendships to be forged and play to ensue. It is upon the pure essence of a child’s spirit that our “sameness” can be celebrated; and from this thread of unity we may truly celebrate that which makes us unique and different. I had known before that this was important work and for all these same reasons, yet now a deeper part of me understood. My bones understood and very muscle in my body understood. Understood and beamed in celebration of what was before me: Dozens of smiling faces and bright eyes beaming at us, still charged up and ready to flee if the loping beast decided to awaken once more. And it did.
As we prepared to leave I pulled Josh aside and whispered in his ear. We then broke out into a goofy, fun vocal improve performance for the kids, one last gesture of gratitude for the gift of their purity and the deepening awareness it had inspired inside of me.
On we ventured to the edge of Chitwan, over the river by canoe and into the government’s Elephant Breeding Center. The day was hot and muggy by this time, so we moved quickly over the open land towards the relative cover of the Breeding Center’s information booth. We read a little about elephants, the struggles of captive breeding and the economic importance to this region across generations. None of this, however prepared us for the elephants themselves. Under relatively small shade structures, tethered to a wooden post on a small mound of dirt stood each elephant. The front two feet were chained together tightly like those of a convict to prevent any kind of long strides. A brief look into these incredibly intelligent eyes was all I needed. Chained up like a convict, yet what was your crime? A dozen or so such elephants lined the center with perhaps six or seven babies in all. I felt uneasy being among the free humans walking along the railing gawking at them in their captivity. Just one look in the eyes of one of these elephants was all it took to see their depth of understanding and awareness. I turned to look at my team. Each and every one of us felt the same way. We did not linger in this place long. We made our way back out and across the river towards home.
The joy and celebration of the children was mingled with the sobering sadness and even wisps of anger around the treatment of such wise and beautiful creatures as these elephants. All of this, the full spectrum of our human experience, is beautiful. Asia brings this lesson home for me quite often. The best and the worst all mixed into one beautiful cacophony of human existence.”
No sleep for me last night. Too much to do. So much to consider. Yep, the bank froze my debit card seeing 5 people eating out in Suaraha, took care of that …again. Yep, made sure that there was a new hotel reservation for Kathmandu, that the interview with the “Bee Acupuncturist” was in fact happening (an acupuncturist that uses bee stings as his needles) and answered the inevitable emails that come in about 4am every morning. That’s before my feet swing out of bed,
I don’t care about sleeping. I think most people who find themselves at the apex of their creative center feel this way. We forget to shower, eat…take out the trash. It is like waiting for a child to be born. While the Team is in Nepal, I am simply lit up like a firecracker. It is one thing to achieve a goal: Send 5 wonderful young people to Nepal as ambassadors for AOMUSIC and come back with recordings of children singing as well as unparalleled footage of this amazing process. But it is what happens in between the goal and the outcome that defines the creative process.
Creating is the art of allowing. Allowing the picture to come into focus without pushing, allowing for interruptions to the plan to reveal the REAL plan. Allowing for magic to break in unexpectedly and change every person involved, which then immediately changes the outcome. Rain, food issues, cultural differences, language, altitude all are the ingredients for surprises, one after the other. This is why I don’t mind loosing sleep. This is why I have put my life in alignment with AO Foundation International: Because I am guaranteed to be allowed to unfold, just like the process of making this film and meeting these families, children and the country of Nepal.
So, while I was still awake at 5:30 this morning, this email came in from my daughter Jessie. Internet is difficult in Nepal and as the team writes each sentence they have to constantly re-boot, re-fresh, wait and shut down. Does not make following thoughts very easy. But it is the spirit that blazes bright in every email.
“And it is a late late night for me….Today was like breathing. It was our second and last day with the children at Shree Little Star School. As wonderful and amazing as they were, I am even more excited about the days to come and the future footage I will take, as we just got invited to come back to Kathmandu to work with a group of children in an Orphanage there, as well as with a renowned musician from Nepal. Raj took only myself over to Mushard Village to quickly meet the new children here in Suaraha and speak to them about coming in the morning to record them.
Although the streets were muddy and the village small and poverty stricken. I have never experienced such radiating light, love and laughter like that from children. I was only there maybe less then five minutes and I left with them knowing my name and chasing after me when we left on the Mo-ped. I have never felt happier and more up-lifted in my life. This was after a morning of slowly drifting down the Rapti River in a canoe with Josh and Rob doing yoga. We watched an elephant and her baby cross the river. A magical day of footage and pure excitement. Things are unfolding so fast and so beautifully, I can only assume I am walking a path that I have been searching for my whole life.”
So, the Team is working today with a new group of younger children and then packing to go to Kathmandu in the morning. This was an unexpected new offering that happens all of the time with AOMUSIC. Once people hear the music, doors open to wonderful new introductions to communities and children. It is our firm belief to follow the gifts we are given and make those contacts, take the treks and be open hearted, open handed and supportive of the families and children contributing to our albums. So a new adventure begins.
Our third Team member was also a gift. I had never met Karan Sharma, but through an introduction to Marc Pingry Production a light bulb went off in Marc’s head as we were having dinner in Seattle. “Karan…you must bring Karan Sharma with you”, said Marc.
Marc proceeded to share about this young man whose father is Romesh Sharma, an Indian actor, producer and director in Bollywood. Karan has acted, and worked on a documentary series called “Fantastic Festivals of the World”. He brings a creative eye, enthusiasm, great ideas and heart to the AO Project in Nepal and is working with a larger camera to film the team teaching children and the story of the team itself. Here is a little on Karan.
Karan currently is living in India, and has studied International Business and Management Studies at the European Business School London. He is fluent in English and Hindi, and can speak some French. Karan has also acted and we are excited to work with him in the future on our larger documentary that will trek to the Caves of Maratika and to a monastery near Everest. He is a gem!
Fantastic Festivals of the World
Season One & Now Season Two People around the world know how to have fun!The “Fantastic Festivals of the World” Series features the best, most exotic, bizarre and unique of these celebrations! This exciting and colorful HDTV series can be seen currently on the Discovery HD Theater (www.dhd.discovery.com) in the USA on Wednesdays at 8 pm and 11 pm PST. the documentary was done by Marc Pingry Productions. www.youtube.com/pingryhdtv
So, when Karan came enthusiastically onboard I thought our team was complete. Until one night I woke up and saw a picture in my mind of a young man I barely knew and somehow understood that for some reason, Josh Massad, I think that was his name, had to be part of our team also. I had no Idea why, but in the next few days I found him in Goa, India and found out why I had had a vision of him that night. Tomorrow I want to introduce you to the teams own “Yoda”. Josh Massad. Our fourth team member.
I left for my “Year as a Gypsy” on September 2, 2011. As that year comes to a close my life has opened. By shedding my beliefs about what I “thought” might make me happy in life and asking a new question about “what would bring me joy”, I made some bold new moves. After selling most of my belongings, letting go of my house, my man, my dog and my attachment to any outcome, I packed my car and drove off. First stop, Asheville, North Carolina.
My blog, www.the-gypsy-life.com has chronicled what can only be described as a “surprising” year. I had thoughts of writing full time, landed a screenplay writing job, re-invented myself with a new website www.mayalunachristobel.com and felt the stars aligning in what I believed was my destiny. And then I learned a very important saying first hand and right between the eyes: “How do you make the Gods laugh? By telling them your plans”. It was simply a few weeks into my adventure that I threw the blueprints out and adopted the only thing I knew to do: Navigate by intuition …one day at a time.
So, here I am, many stories later, still no driver’s license, but well traveled, well cared for, well fed, well loved and inspired beyond anything I could imagine. And after just one short year I have found that my heart is happiest singing, participating in a music company that has children at the center of everything, and creating opportunity for myself and as many others as possible to live their dreams. How could I have known any of this before taking the leap?
Today, August 18th, one of those dreams is being realized for a group of young people who just landed in Kathmandu, Nepal. I took a leap of faith and decided to produce a short film of recording children in Chitwan, Nepal, singing songs composed by my partner, Richard Gannaway and AOMUSIC. By reaching for my dream as a filmmaker, four amazing young people are reaching for theirs. Paying it forward is not just about money, or gifting someone, but is also about what happens when I say yes to a vision from the heart…it expands to include so many other people who get a chance to do the same. Physics of the Heart.
It is the height of the monsoon season in Nepal. This “Dream Team” is made up of my daughter Jessie, who with her Canon 5D will be interviewing the village, the children and the team as, come rain and more rain, the children learn to sing. Her photography will be part of a campaign for a documentary series. Then there is Rob who is from Asheville and a yoga/slack line teacher as well as musician par-excellence who will be recording the children. Josh is the “Yoda” of this entourage. Josh has been living in India and has a story to share that will both curl your hair and make you stand up an applaud the tenacity of spirit in this young man. Josh is a musician and teacher of music to children all over the globe. And lastly is Karan, from Mumbai, India who is going to film the entire journey of AO in Nepal. He has filmed numerous documentaries and brings so much to this unfolding story of AOMUSIC as we trek to where children are in need and hear the songs of their undaunted hearts.
So in these next ten days I will post a short story every day from Nepal to give you a window into the courage, the creativity and the spirit of those on this trip, the people of Nepal, my own unfolding in this process that has not been without obstacles, all in the hope that just one person might find their own heart on fire for change, for reaching for your dream and for helping those who need you most when you do.
As for me and coming to the close of a year on the road? The Gypsy Life has become the life I choose from this moment forward. There is no other way to live for me.
AOMUSIC had gotten the attention of Hollywood. The story of this is amazing. As many of you know, we were invited to trek to Nepal and record some children for our new album to be released Feb. 2013. And word spread in Nepal that we were coming, people heard the beauty of the music and the message of love that is AO and suddenly we got an invitation to come to visit the sacred Caves of Maratika and record. This is an arduous trip, yet this ancient site houses a majority of sacred Buddhist teachings.
This pilgrimage to the holy Caves of Maratika is in Halesi. Maratika Cave and Monastery is located south east of Mount Everest and was the retreat of Mahadeva while he was in hiding. For both Hindus and Buddhists it is one of their most famous pilgrimage centers. Here is a note we received from the Monastery:
“Regarding Maratika: We have now a project to reconstruct our Maratika Monastery as it is falling a part also this year’s earthquake has made little problem. For this project many buddhist high masters including H.H. Dalai Lama has written the supporting letter for this project.”
So, now we can help give back to them through the sale of the album and help their project because of their generous invitation. So our trip expanded and we were planning to go in the monsoon season, with swollen rivers and nighttime hikes for hours.
Suddenly another email. We were invited for an unprecedented trek to Solukhumbu Monastery. A rugged overland passage. Here is the proposal from our contact there, and their historical invitation. It reads,
“O yes i have some new idea for you or AO music, since you are in Nepal.
When you are in Nepal you can take your crew to my teacher’s monastery in Solukhumbu, which is the most beautiful place, it is like Tibet, where now more than six hundred monks and nuns doing prayer every day, i think that make a great experience for AO. My Guru His Holiness Trulshik Rinpoche who is also the main guru of HH Dalai lama has recently passed away, after many months praying here in Nepal, his precious Kudung, which is his enlighten body, is now in his Monastery Solukhumbu. If you are planning than i can organize a trip and guide to accompany with you i really think it will be good for AO music since we see that AO will be beneficial for so many people. For that sense that place HH Monastery is the most powerful place, if you are targeting music and chanting with visual beauty.”
So as you can see there is not only a story about the dedication of AO to bring World Music a new voice for change, involving children all over the globe, but our reach now can be educational and inspiring with this trek to Nepal and beyond.
AO trains and records children, most of whom are living in extraordinary circumstances. These children have never been in choirs before and are from the poorest of the surrounding villages. They will be singing about love, light and our world for the first time, in a harmonically creative language. This is a signature for AO, that the language cuts across all boundaries and languages and creates a universal, harmonically pure vibration. You will see the effects of this on the faces of all the children of AO.
AO have been astonished at how these requests open new doors for changing the hearts of people. “But how could we fund this in such a short time?” we asked. Then a phone call.
“This should be a documentary” he said. And before we knew it a dozen interested film people, PBS producers, Independent directors, videographers and Bollywood interest just flooded in. Without effort. An amazing gift for the simple act of holding the vision. One song at a time, one child at a time and one dollar at a time. One person said that this is a “Dream’Gig” and AOMUSIC has a big dream: To allow for the change needed on the planet to be both initiated by the light of children and the musical purity that is AO. Then to give back to as many children in need as is possible. Why? Because the children hold our future in their hands.
We are now going to Nepal in August to complete our original vision of recording the children of Chitwon and finishing the album and we have given the month of November over to returning to Nepal for all three treks, this time with a film crew and substantial funding.
And what I can say about living in the flow is that the Universe knows when Spirit is at the heart of life and gives such abundant support and love that it takes my breath away.
The project is cooking, growing sea legs, gaining funding and can be the single greatest help to advancing the causes of these children by creating both life changing music AND now creating a visual reference for spirit at work on a suffering planet.
We still need your help to get to the children in Nepal in August and want to have everyone who can give a tax deductible donation to make this trip a reality, become part of our team as we make this documentary. We will be looking for those who want to participate as associate producers or even carry our bags. As I will continue to say, It Takes a Village to Create Change. And Richard Gannaway and I have been the first to “move our feet” to fund the vision. We have used our own resources to make it thus far and I have given up coffee, time to even take a shower and Richard has given up vacations and sleep. But we cannot move to the next level of the vision alone.
Please visit us at our Kickstarter page http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/933732314/ao-music?ref=live. For only $10 you can receive our Last Album,” And Love Rages On” which was shortlisted for the Grammys this past year. This trip takes $10,000 in support. We are nearly one third there and have less than two weeks left to generate the funds or if we are short our goal even $10, we lose all our dedicated funding.
You can Donate tax deductible contributions on our AO website at http://www.aomusic.com/ao/blog/wordpress/ and join us on the adventure. Please see the gifts we will give back to you for helping us get this first leg of the trip to Nepal accomplished.
And if you simply cannot push a button and donate $10, $50, $100 then do us the next best favor please. Send an email to 5 friends. Tell someone how interesting this project is and point them to all our YouTube videos or my website. Your spreading the word and sending an email to friends is worth it’s weight in gold.
And get to know each of us at AO on my website at: http://www.mayalunachristobel.com/heartbeat/
Blessings and thank you, Maya
POWERLESS TO POWERFUL
Don't ever change yourself to impress someone, cause they should be impressed that you don't change to please others -- When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is, always remember that the teacher is always quiet during a test --- Unknown
Enjoy the world we live in; imagine the worlds that could be.
Henna Art & Herbal Apothecary
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Hi, I'm Chae. Nothing special, just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. Or so you may think. But, if you take a closer look, you'll see the there's nothing ordinary about me. There's nothing ordinary about any of us, to tell the truth. This is the life of one of God's children trying to discover herself in this world. See? Nothing special. Or is it...?
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