Instant Karma

Take three travelers, a nation of Buddhists, and one unfortunate rodent. Add a forbidden journey and a dark childhood secret, and you could have the time of your lives.

Jun 1, 2000
Outside Magazine
In the morning, mist wreathed the valley. To either side, treeless slopes reared up a mile in the sky. We walked the track in shade, the ground hard-frozen, and watched the sunlight coming. When the light finally sailed into the bottom of the valley the temperature leaped 50 degrees. In minutes winter metamorphosed into summer. The river began to cough and jerk and then run free, the pastures turned from frost-white to green, and shouting shepherd kids sprouted on the hillsides. That's how the world works above a certain altitude. Of course, it could just as easily have been snowing.

"So, Maury," I said. "You don't believe in luck?"

He had his pants hiked up, revealing the funny, laceless, ankle-length Blundstone boots that Aussies like. He'd taken off his fedora and was strolling hat in hand. "Luck isn't something you can believe in," he said. "Luck is the word used by people who don't believe."

"Good things happen and it's not just a matter of luck?"

"Nope. They were supposed to happen."

"And bad things?"

"Same." Maury was practicing twirling his fedora on the tip of his finger and catching it. "Everything happens for a reason, Mark."

Brigitte was just ahead, practically skipping even with a heavy pack. She was implacably cheerful, just like Maury. You couldn't get either of them to say a bad word about anything or anybody if you tortured them.

"So you must believe in karma."

"I do."

"And reincarnation."

"They go together." Maury flashed a smile and flipped the fedora up onto his head.

To me, it seemed like the oddest coincidence that I should wind up walking to Lhamo Latso with a man who actually believed in reincarnation. But then Maury would have said that that's because it wasn't a coincidence at all.


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