Beyond all words. I can’t believe I went, but I can’t believe I am back. To be honest, it all feels like a dream now.
That is the only response I have to the question “How was India?”
Now the snow is starting to fall outside my window. The holiday is over; my distractions are now gone. Now starts the next stage: integration of what I have learned.
But first I must pause. Part of this journey has been left open. I will take you all one last time through a few small adventures and a few small struggles of mine.
I was asked by a friend if I would wear sari back home. I was known in the group for wearing one the better part of a week. Forgetting about the cold, I said yes. But after the first cold day in an outfit that exposes your mid-drift, they all went in the drawer until warmer day dawn. But to look in my closet seemed daunting. The walls of it are close and seem looming as they are heavy laden with clothes of all different sorts. They loom with the obligation to wear them (the clothes), memories hide inside them and beg for me to keep them, but my heart cries out to clear out all but the essentials. So one sleepless night I started taking shirts and skirts down off their hangers. I thanked them for their service to my life but let the clothes fall gracefully to the group and out of my life. And a weight was lifted, but not all the way. Soon I was going through all my drawers and shelves searching for things I could purge from my life.
Rooms have often been used to symbolize people’s minds for they are a clear representation as to what people hold on to. I came back to my room filled with clutter, a stark contrast from my room at the Vihar which was filled only with the essentials. It was a simple room but it allowed for creativity to fill its simplicity. The mind could breath and when a friend came by, there was room for them with little distraction to take away from the connection between friends. But I have returned to this cave of stuff I have created myself. The cave is my collection of object that I have held onto, objects that remind me a certain places or events. So clearing them out is so hard, for they all have sentiments attached to them.
But more subtle shocks have filled my days: I drank from a straw in a restaurant and was utterly surprised at how sturdy it was compared to the flimsy straws of India. It was the difference between a blade of grass and a great oak to me. I keep fighting the urge to eat with my hands in front of my parents. The need to drive everywhere has kept me inside most days. Yet I long to stroll along, but even then, there are no people to watch here. I noticed yesterday that I was rather dehydrated. In the cold I feel no need to drink extra liquids yet without twice daily tea times, I don’t drink hardly anything at all. Unlike the small dingy mirror above the sink in the Vihar (which only gave a general outline as to how you looked) he mirror in my bathroom is clear and big and I can see the flaws in my skin arise. I went from going days without looking at myself to facing my face every morning and night. It is not that I don’t like the way I look, I don’t like being concerned about how my skin or the like looks.
But here, we must not romanticize India and think that living there was without problems. One must remember the good along with the bad. So yes, it is not all easy coming home. I have a struggle raging inside of my. But I had that in India as well. That struggle is life blooming inside of us. This struggle is growth in disguise. It is the battle always of what to hold on to and what to let go of: it is hard to stay but it is also hard to leave. Much like a plant which is either growing or dead, if one’s heart becomes stagnant, something inside has died.
So it has been a struggle going and a struggle coming home. But I am blessed that I have been surrounded by love the whole way. To help me readjust my family has been supportive and forgiving. They have put up with my new way and forgiven me when I fall short of what they expect. Without them I would have never been able to go on this trip. But even more, without them I would have been unable to deal with life coming back home. I cannot thank you enough. And as for you, the rest of my readers, I want to thank you for joining my on this journey. I am sad I could not bring a piece of the hot Indian wind to open in front of you so it might blow across your face. And I am unable to bottle the smells and pictures just don’t quite capture the sights. But I hope I was able to give you a glimpse of what is out there. If I could inspire just one to take a journey, maybe not to India but to whatever place you need to stretch you, this all would be worth it.
But now, as I conclude this blog, I think to what Donald Miller said in one of his book: life is like Jazz, it never quite resolves.
This chapter is over but my journey continues.
Love and blessings to you all: May you be peace, happy, and free from suffering