He came from a rural village in Northern Laos. He had been in Luang Pra Bang for 4 years now, living as a monk. I met him mid way up the 328 step staircase that leads to Phou Si temple situated at the peak of a mountain which overlooks the city.
I adore Laos, but had the misfortune to have spent almost the entirety of my time there in bed with a head to toe rash, which had left me rather cranky and irritable. The heat exacerbated the itch, and the climb wasn't exactly helping.
Mid-way up however, I stopped to soak up the view (and also to see an imprint of Buddha's apparently enormous foot). As I gazed out over the city, the breeze seemed to lift away the dopey haze which had enveloped me (still on steroids and powerful antihistamines at this point), and there he stood shyly in the corner. His neon orange robe lit up the gray stone ledge and set his calm, smooth face a glow.
What's it like to be a Monk?
He said he came here everyday to practice his English. Tourists were plentiful and so there was always someone to chat with. His other duties lie with the rest of the monks - cleaning the temple, walking the street for alms. A simple life for sure, but he missed his family.
Often it's the intangible qualities of a person that are the most compelling. His quiet nature. The calm that encased him.
He radiated a gentle kind of peace and I felt my irritation melt away.
This post is written in gratitude for those people that come into our lives, every so briefly, and leave us feeling uplifted. Their effortless presence, that melts away all the rubbish, and allows us to carry on with increased lightness of being.