Thursday, March 19, 2009 by Dave Blum
So there we are on the Himalayan bridge: Matt, Julie, Laurie, Steve and I, plus one unperturbed Sherpa and 15 very-determined Nepalese oxen.
Laurie, who’s at midpoint, sits down and wraps herself around her pack. The rest of us turn and huddle against the guide wires, endeavoring to make ourselves as thin as possible. Within minutes the oxen are upon us, snorting and snuffling — clearly as anxious to get off the bridge as we are. With those big horns of theirs, any head turning might knock us over the edge. Fortunately, an oxen’s focus is very narrow: walk straight, move forward. They (and their smiling shepherd) pass right on past us without incident, rubbing shoulders with us somewhat amiably as they parade en masse to the other side. With wobbly legs, we lift ourselves up and finish our bridge crossing. Against all odds (and oxen), we have survived our high-altitude, cross-cultural encounter–a bit shaken, but intact.
Dave’s “hindsight is 20-20” take-aways:
1) Consider your course carefully before proceeding on a new path. Timing is everything — whenever possible, anticipate stampedes.
2) When faced with adversity, stay calm. Panicking only makes things worse (and the last thing you want to do is agitate an ox!).
3) Weigh the options and make a choice. Moving backwards is often more risky than standing still and weathering the storm.