The sticky air of a South Asian country during monsoon season is thick like batter. I would sit on the balcony rail outside my room, let my legs dangle in the batter, and feel the sweet breeze of an oncoming storm. Then the roof and wire monkeys would flee, and, on cue, the clouds would roll in assertively, as if with exaggerated self-opinion.

In August, the lush and sprawling Kathmandu valley saw rain everyday. Never a light drizzle or a modest shower. No, it was the season of street waterfalls. Violent in looks, soothing in symphonies, I would find a seat on broken steps and look on as the floods boldly evaluated gutter capacity. I’d watch smoky brown street rivers rush hurriedly toward me and then away again. I’d see children play and wash in the downpour like they’d never seen rain before, their joyful cries drowned out by pounding water. Mimicking the frenzied movement of the storm, adults would run for shelter and snap shutters and doors shut. And then I’d find myself alone as if I were the only still thing in Kathmandu, fixed into cracking ground like assiduous roots of a tree. The movement would then cease, the rain would stop, often abruptly, and a pure silence would be met by the sporadic plops of leftover water drops late to the game. Living beings then emerged from the shadows, and society would begin again clean and reborn. Until tomorrow.

This is what Nepal taught me: the cyclical nature of the world and everything in it offers treasured stability in a life we like to declare chaotic and volatile. Nepal was a cleanse, a means of letting go, giving me an unbelievable lightness of being. Because burdens are often self-inflicted, to choose to carry nothing is to be free.