My first time ever leaving the country alone, I set off for India. This was about one year ago. Over the course of the adventures and stories my time brought me, I felt I had captured the story in photos that I would use to recall it forever. With no internet access the whole time, the photos I had on my phone were the closest thing to proof of what I had just experienced. However, patting my pockets in line for the airplane home, the unthinkable happened. My phone was lost. Now, I have to say that this has turned out to be a blessing in disguise in more ways than one.
First of all, I could not post on social media. I think in a way that allowed me to reflect on it in a more personal way. Memories are not set in stone by any means, and although I only spent a short two weeks traveling, the following year I continued to think about what I had lived through. In many ways, I was continuing to travel over that time. I thought about what I saw. I rememberd the people I met. I compared things to home. I felthumbled and changed. Perception is a powerful force and our truths can change as we do.
In the last year of university, I spent time mentally preparing for the release of my material life. My roommate would say, “How are you getting rid of clothes again? Don’t you have anything left?” My goal was to have that answer one day be No. I held back on spending money on temporary things like eating out, or buying stuff. I remember my roommate holding up a pair of pants, “What’s wrong with these? Maybe I’ll set them aside for you. They are cute! And you wear them all the time!” Yeah… but I feel empowered knowing that I CAN let them go. This was the start.
I think that losing my photos made me remember things in a different way than if I hadn’t lost them. I remember sitting with a fellow while I was traveling, and telling him the story of my trip photo by photo in the train before I lost my phone. “First, I did this… *swipe* then this happened *swipe* then…” etc. But I can’t remember what photos I took, I can only remember what my blurry human mind allows me to. I can only remember what really resonated with me. The story includes the feelings, the people, the sights, the smells! And the story is mine to share with people who come in to my life.
Have you ever had a smell bring back a flood of memories? My elementary school still smells the same. Whenever I go there, I feel floods of being a child overwelm me. I remember thoughts I had and episodes I lived through. The thing is we don’t have to hold on so much. It’s all there. Maybe not in our conscious mind, but it’s our life and our experiences make up the fabric of who we are. I remember the feelings I had when I met certain people. I remember crying on a bus between destinations because I felt so overcome with happiness. I remember how I felt arriving home at LAX. I remember how I meditated in my room first thing when I got home. See, the memories don’t start and stop with a destination. All of it is part of the journey and all of it will continue to be a part of my story. Whether it’s sleeping on the cold metal floor of a bumpy train or standing at the foot of a palace. Beauty doesn’t define impact.
Now that reflection and time over that experience was mine. I saved this one just for me. And although, many of my sweet friends and family would loved to have seen photos, I neglected to “share” this one. It built in me the confidence I needed to leave long term. And now, unnanounced I’m living in India for an undetermined amount of time with only a small day pack.
I had the confidence to leave home with a slackline, chess set, pair of pants, and three shirts… among a few other things. The true purpose of doing this for me is to grow as a person and to figure out the purpose of my life. I think seeing the world and meeting some of the people in it will get my foot in the door to answering those big questions.