March 15, 2017

Simplicity in India

I travel each year to a new country.  It’s a “thing” I wrote on my Bucket List.  And on “that list” you write at the beginning of each year.  And this year, I accomplished it in February instead of July.  It was “different”.  I try “different” sometimes because it’s different. And since I am still growing and learning and evolving, I think it’s a good idea.  I may find the secret of the universe yet. 


India.  I bought a trip to India.  People ask, “Why India?”  Well, it was on sale.  I wanted to go to Nepal, but my ex-husband said the trip was too far out to put on his calendar, so he could watch our children.  That’s honest.  I accepted it as a sign instead of a barrier.  I’ll trade in a monastery for the bustling, dirty, spiritual montage of India.  I’ve never needed to go there, but then, life is full of signs and pathways, and sometimes you just let go and follow the path of the river beneath you.  It’s much easier than trying to control or figure it out. 


I set an intention, because I am just barely enlightened enough to know that on my journey, I must often choose to learn something, because I first believed there was a sign to go there.  I will look for my lesson, my takeaway.  There always is one, but I intended to see it. 


And I had no idea what to expect.  30 hours of travel each way.  A 12 and a half hour time change.  Airports, buses, streets full of trash and animals and lots of men, some women.  And this is the synopsis of the century.  But there’s a point I am getting to while painting a background from which you can picture it. 


Alone.  Lots of alone.  Even though I was with a tour group of people from everywhere…  Japan, Australia, Canada, the United States, England, Germany, Italy and beyond…  I was peacefully alone, alone with my experience, my perceptions.  I was fully alive and aware of the beautiful people around me who were alone and alive too…  experiencing with their own filters.  Side by side, same and different.


It was beautiful and exhilarating and exhausting.  Some people go to a spa.  I find a terrifyingly difficult trip in the backroads of another country the mecca to find my inner Buddha, Ghandi, whatever.  And it works.  It works for me, and it might change as I grow.  I might even stay in 4 star hotels at some point in my life, once I give up the idea that I must see behind the scenes, into the “real” life, not into the life of my room butler.  But I doubt that will happen anytime soon.


And as I digress, I also roam closer to the lesson I took away.  And I fear as I move closer to my point, that I won’t be able to convey it’s magnitude appropriately, or that my message will be lost in the chatter of my background or that my…  Here goes.


We rode bicycles in the countryside, in the middle of Nowhere, India…  I think that was the name of the town.  After camping in beautiful tents and beds…  We rode bicycles, National Georgraphic-style.  We saw wedding parties and poverty and naked children running out to see us-waving feverishly, goats in the road, potholes in the streets that no city in the US would approve, fields of crops, cows taking charge, women standing in the same place on the way out and the way back because they truly have nowhere to be.  We saw life happening in a place where there is no internet or facebook?  I didn’t ask.  But I am guessing it wasn’t on the docket. 


One child yelled “you’re rich” at us while we slowly pedaled by, in awe, a mess, disheveled from the life we usually lived.  We stopped at the school where the children surrounded us.  One lady took a picture of them and showed them.  They spoke and reacted in a heightened state.  They had never seen themselves on camera.  Was it awe? 


And we ended up in the home of a man who worked at our campground.  It was a humble two room home, two beds in the main room, the other room containing a very small kitchen.  He invited us in as the children from town gathered around the door to engage us, very hopefully.  I kept fairly quiet, taking it all in.  I noticed one lady from our group from Canada, born in India, with a tidy grasp of Hindi, speaking with the 70 year old mother of our guide…  I took a picture.  The moment was beautiful to me.  They were trying to communicate, while the rest of our group sat or stood around the two beds in the main room.  Our guide was proud to show us his home, his mother, his life.  I drank my Chai Marsala in gratitude and reached the place inside me where I have felt shame for anything “less than” that I own, even though I have chosen my place in life.  The guide was proud.  The children were in awe.  The mother of the guide…  She said to the woman in our tour…


“You all have so many material things.  And you travel the world, to India, to search for something.  You search for something different than what you have.  But we have it.  We have simplicity.  And that’s what you seek.”


I am paraphrasing because I couldn’t possibly have taken the exact words.  But I saw the moment.  I took a picture, and I asked a question while the children danced and laughed and listened to the music on the phones of some of the members of our group. 


Surreal.  Yes.  Hopeful.  Yes.  Profound.  Well, fucking absolutely.  We did come here searching for something.  Yes!  We all live in nice homes and live comfortably and travel regularly and live wrecklessly and even purposefully.  We want more because we feel that pang that what we are doing doesn’t really matter.  And we wonder what does.  What does matter? 


What you say matters.  What you do matters.  The life you live matters, only because it’s the only life you’ll live.  It’s your life, your statement.  And although we have the choice to build and live the life we choose, we don’t get what that means.  We don’t understand what the choice is.  It’s a huge fucking call to action.  To create the life we want. 


We need to quit feeling sorry for people who have less.  Someone who doesn’t drive a BMW isn’t suffering.  Someone who lives in less than 3,000 square feet isn’t destitute.  Someone who smiles in their life is rich.  Someone who notices what they have and what they want, and how much of it they have actually attained, they are RICH! 


I made a list in my head of what I wanted.  I live modestly.  I laugh loudly.  I live happily because of the people in my life, the love I share, the adventures I experience.  That’s important to me.  I love my job.  I adore my children.  I have love beyond measure. 


Turns out I live the life I want.  I knew it, but I know it more now.  I know…  I had to travel to the other side of the world to see it, but I already knew it.  I already said “thank you” each day.  But I saw wisdom that day in another country, another life, another face, another language, another time zone.  And it sounded the same.  I will still travel and search.  I will still be grateful each and every day.  But the magnitude of the lesson doesn’t escape me.  The greatness of simplicity.  Today.  Take a moment.  Think of what you want and need.  Think of how you are representing this in your life.  And be grateful for all the ways it manifests. 


Today.  Blessings.  Today.