Gratitude, Travel and India

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I can't believe it's been a year since I boarded a plane to India. I’ve been missing it a lot lately since it was this time last year that I was packing for my trip... And that has me thinking a lot about my experience in India and the whole adventure of it all. What stands out from MY experience of India was: genuine, sincere people who are grateful and happy with less. Read on for my perspectives from my amazing time there.
I remember telling family and friends that I was going. Their reactions covered the full spectrum from 1) wondering why I even wanted to go 2) worrying about my safety and 3) thinking it sounded like an amazing adventure... but me? I was over the moon. Even though I was going with a group for a yoga training, it still required months of preparation. I know my friends got tired of hearing about it as the months ticked by and I got more and more excited, but they put up with me anyway.As the trip approached, I kept reading that nothing at all can possibly prepare you for your first visit to India. All reports basically said the same thing… that India is an overstimulation of all of the senses, all at once. The sights, sounds, smells, tastes, feels… it’s all happening simultaneously in a cacophony of life. The advice I kept reading was to be prepared for the culture shock of it all.

Well, that was all pretty true.

And since I’m reflecting back on it right now, I thought I’d mention something totally UNexpected about (said) culture shock. Yes, there are lots of people, sounds, smells, tastes, and even animals everywhere. Example: an average road in New Delhi (the capital city) has cars, trucks, large utility trucks, buses, bicycles, mopeds, tuk-tuks, bulls with carts, horses, cows, and dogs. All of which are zooming around on the same road honking their horns as much as they possibly can.. It’s crowded and chaotic. Then once you get into the mountains, throw in tight curvy roads a bunch of monkeys as well.

Yes, it is an adjustment. But, again, what stands out most from my experience of India was: genuine, sincere people who are grateful and happy with less.

I was prepared for the culture shock of going TO India. What was unexpected was the culture shock of coming BACK from India.

This may step on some toes, but remember that I came back from a place where many people are dirt-poor and don’t have much at all. Yet, they are grateful. That’s a stark, stark contrast to returning home in early December when our culture is at the absolute height of consumerism preparing for the Christmas season. The commercials on TV made me sick. Hearing people complain about their cushy life annoyed me. It drove me crazy. I didn’t even want to be around people. I was only in India for a couple weeks, but it was quite a wake up call.

Eventually my sweet husband told me to stop being such an ol' grump and I realized he was right. I needed to take the beautiful parts from the East and from the West.

My point? Keep your perspective. Have fun this holiday season, celebrate, throw a party, and yes-- buy your loved ones thoughtful gifts if you want to. I LOVE to do all of that, too. But beware of getting too caught up in it. Stuff is just stuff, and will eventually break down. Invest in your loved ones, experiences, adventures and things that are meaningful to you. My mother always says the best way to spell “love” is actually “t-i-m-e.” Spend time with people you love, and actually be present with them.

In summary, try not to let the holiday season overwhelm you, steal your joy, or overshadow your gratitude. I am writing this post for that very reason. I found myself getting, ahem, shall we say “stressed” over the last couple of weeks... and for what? An overbooked schedule? (That's laughable...who doesn't have an overbooked schedule?!) Too much on my to-do list? Future plans that I can’t do anything about yet? Mostly, I was overwhelmed by things that are really not that big of a deal. Therefore, I’m trying to keep my perspective on what really matters. Taking a lesson from the beautiful people I encountered in India and being MORE grateful, and LESS concerned with stuff. Won’t you join me??

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