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  • I had just stepped out of a marriage as now my kids had 'left the nest', out of a comfortable big house with a boat, Landcruiser and all the trappings of middle income living in affluent Perth Western Australia. Shortly afterwards I had little more than a key in my money-belt to a shed holding what was left of "me" - a bed, filing cabinet and boxes of photoalbums and here I was in remote western China, in Litang. Alone, chillingly alone and without.

    Perhaps the altitude, but suddenly it hit me how utterly devoid and nude I was of who I am. I felt rudderless and even the air left me gasping when I walked the nearby hills at 4000 metres. I was 56 years old and a former chemical engineer with identity, family and a future. Here I sat beside a gompa, a white-walled temple overlooking the nothing-to-look-at town.

    I must have sat for an hour before I picked myself up from this place of nothing, when there in front of me (as you can see in the photograph) stood a local man saluting me with hat on chest and a hint of a shy smile on his face. No words were exchanged, we just stood opposite each other and I felt my eyes go moist. My life folded that moment.

    What a delight, today eight years on, living rudderless - doing the Next Obvious Thing. A soulmate who fell into my life. Living richly. Discovering that life comes when one lives with abandonment and OK feeling vulnerable.

    I am writing this as a salute to that man who was there when I woke up how lucky I was - pointing the way - to nowhere. Life is right here! Nothing to do as it keeps coming to me, effortlessly. Weird as even my bank balance is growing faster now than when I was focussed on earning money.

    Three years later I discovered...... but hey that's another story :).
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