Off to Bhutan, Again….For a FIRST
I’m off to Bhutan again in a few days with a FIRST travel experience in place. After spending a good portion of my life traveling abroad and to over 70 countries, this will be the FIRST time I’ll be basically staying put in one place for most of the trip. It feels mostly natural, with Bhutan as the destination.
Though all you twitter users out there have proven me wrong, I’ve never been one to think that others are really that interested in reading about the minutia of someone else’s day to day life (how/why do people find time for such things?). But I’m going to break that view I’ve set and blog about my experience as much as possible (sorry no Twitter). I am as intrigued as you might be about what it will be like living and working in the Bhutanese culture and I’m psyched to share that with you all.
I’ll be living in the capital, Thimphu, for 6 weeks volunteering with the Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) part time while continuing to run my own business. The basically-staying-put part means that I’m certain that at least several significant physical excursions will arise once I get my bearings—the mountains are too alluring there—but I’m just not planning anything on the front end. Some gear will be in hand, some aspirations in place…and we’ll see how it goes. Being someone who will read a Lonely Planet country guide cover to cover and then lovingly enjoy planning the details of a trip, I’ve left this one to play out as it will and I couldn’t be more pleased.
Its been heartwarming and inspiring sharing interviews on my blog about What Matters to people I know and love and who truly make a difference, not only in our community, but in the world. I’m carrying that inspiration with me as I head back to Bhutan. My aim is to support the BOC in developing and executing events that will showcase their gorgeous country and raise money for their Olympic programs. I’ll also be evaluating and offering support in developing sport in their schools and communities.
One of the challenges the BOC faces is that Bhutan is not an inherently competitive or individualistic nation. They are in a position of selling competitive sports to Buddhists. Thats kind of like trying to sell even range fed, organically grown chicken—to a vegan. Competitive sport, as WE know it, is not a part of their culture. And hard physical labor tends to happen in the rice fields, and not on a playing field. These realities are unique challenges to developing Olympic teams. But both the BOC and I believe that what they do embody—obvious physical talent and a significant connection to their country and cultural tradition—are ingredients to huge potential within several Olympic sports. All Bhutanese love their country. A Bhutanese athlete would train and dedicate themselves to their sport to go to the Olympics for the sole reason of representing Bhutan in the Olympics—with any personal gain as a secondary priority.
All that said, its easy to ask—why do they want to create an Olympic Program in a country with such a traditional culture? Their motive is authentic. The BOC believes that heath and well being are important means to happiness, and that a big part of that is having a healthier and fit body (and therefore mind). Creating sporting programs in schools to educate the young people puts in place a desire for and a message that the overall well being of the people is important. Sport is a means to that objective.
Its distinctly clear for all of us long time athletes, that we can indefinitely experience the virtue that sport and fitness shines in all aspects of our lives. I have been pleased to see the meaning of competition evolve and mature as I’ve gotten older. Joining the BOC in this process of developing sport in a manner that is in closest alignment with their culture and beliefs is a phenomenal opportunity to expand my own view and the view of my clients as we continue to assess what sport brings, not just to our racing, but to our lives and our communities.
I want to give a heartfelt shout out to Melina Lillios with Live, Laugh, Love Tours who has generously sponsored the initial part of my journey through Bangkok. If you want to be FULLY taken care of on an amazing trip—Melina is the woman to talk with.
Back at you very soon from Thailand, while en route.