“Sweet Joys Befall Thee” • Paragliding above Pokhara

(Since there is no way I would ever be able to render this experience in detail, I opt for evocation rather than representation.  And besides, the photos say more than I possibly can.  A line in the title  (from “Songs of Innocence” by the 18th c. poet William Blake)  helps set the scene…)


Today I was a bird,
then a gust of wind rattling bamboo,
then a helpless yet willing child
suspended in a basket
from a billowing parasail.

Mix all of the above
and consciousness is transformed.

My pilot Herve is French and
has flown 20,000 times
over a 25 year career,
yet he understands bien
how that first step and then

leap ! ! !

into absolutely nothing at all
unhinges and transports a person,
a transcendence
that completely delights.

I watch Max and pilot Pierre
take off like a seasoned team,
my son staring down
and then launching into
the embrace of a windy void,

their yellow sail a splash of color
against a crystalline blue sky.
Far below unfold the planet’s
slopes, undulations, and hues–
what a bird sees without thinking,

pure perception, instinct unflinching,
to soar above Sarankot,
riding thermals and bucking crosswinds,
lowering a wing to join
gravity’s spiral dance.

Too soon land and lakeside
rise rapidly, tangibly,
their abrupt materiality
both a caution and a welcome
for these fragile creatures’