Originally published on 18th September, 2016.
3 minute read
“When you travel lightly, you’re freer, less burdened, less tired. This applies to life, not just travel.”
Once in every two-three months, a familiar voice rings me up from Down Under. It’s a voice that is an epitome of true friendship; a voice that has been there for me ever since 6th grade. Despite the jubilant feeling getting a trunk call from someone so close to your heart brings, there’s an ambivalent feel to it when I have to answer a few inevitable set of questions that comes up every time.
“When are you coming here? Don’t waste your time there in Nepal. You’ve got a lot of potential and I know you’ll do great here. There’s abundance of opportunity over here and you’ll make loads of money. Don’t waste time. Tell me, when are you coming?”
By the time my friend completes his set of mandatory questions, I will have already prepared myself mentally to switch to a new topic. Sometimes I manage to convolute the conversation by asking him about his life instead, while other times it’s not so easy to dodge the bullets.
I truly appreciate my friend for his concerns regarding my life, especially my future for his intentions are pure and he envisions a ‘better’ life for me in Australia.
From the surface, probably it appears that this good old Aussie friend of mine cannot understand why I’m staying back in Nepal, especially doing something like teaching, writing, and running a podcast, a career path that does not really give me what most people are after- stability and a lot of money. His chief argument is that the type of work that I do is better suited for abroad and that I can attain stability in my life if I’m there.
I have nothing but gratitude for the loving kindness that lies underneath the stern voice that is growing increasingly frustrated by my ‘lack of action’. But as for me, I’m taking it slow, and for the better. I’ve had my share of unpleasant moments and struggles in the past one and half years, but if a sense of recovery were anything to go by, I’d say I’m doing quite well. In fact, I’d say I’ve never been happier.
One of my recovery modes into a happier self has been to slow down. While I see most people around me frantically running around for that next big thing, I’ve quietly come to an understanding that maybe, for me, presence is more important at this present moment than a sense of palpable external achievement; one that is chiefly characterized by productivity. As someone who was always anxious about the future and rushing for I don’t know what, taking mindful steps everyday and learning more about myself and taking conscious actions to understand, envision, and enact a life that’s best suited for me has given me a sense of deep appreciation of life. Inspired by the legendary British philosopher Alan Watts, I’ve come to a profound understanding that life isn’t necessarily a journey that gives a sense of a destination we ought to arrive at; but rather, life is a music to which we are supposed to sing and dance along the way.
This appreciation means finding more time to do the things that really matter to me, rather than pursing ideas just to seek external validation. I don’t feel the need to pursue certain things just because every one else thinks is mandatory, or important, or, lets just say ‘cool’. Slowly but surely, I’m coming to an understanding that everyone’s path is different and that a keen understanding of the self is essential to make an all important decision about the type of life one wants to live.
This is not to say that I’ve it all figured out, the truth is far from it. However, I can take heart from the fact that I’m asking myself the right questions and the answers are unique; for only my soul can answer them. The quest of finding the answers is important, and that is why, I’m doing what’s necessary for me; even if it means cutting out a large part of social media that has been an integral part of my everyday life.
I’m sure you’ve also encountered similar threats to your sense of self; you haven’t really known what you want from your life but the fear of missing out, the fear of falling behind, and the need for approval has somehow forced you into actions that are inexplicable to you.
I just want to ask you a few questions.
Are you happy with your life or with where you think it’s leading you?
Who is making most of the decisions in your life- you, those around you, or your life circumstances?
Are your actions consistent with what truly makes you happy?
If you’re already on a path whereby constantly asking yourself these questions is the norm, other people’s thoughts, actions, and paths undertaken will not necessarily derail you into panic mode. You’ll slowly come to understand that everyone else is equally anxious, confused, afraid, and beneath it all- just wanting to be loved and appreciated.
Once you come to a deep understanding about this, you’ll have a lot more courage to take up your own path; at your own pace.
As for me, as I await the next call from my beloved friend, I know that I’m, slowly but surely, progressing in my own path; even if it doesn’t necessarily seem obvious on the exterior just yet.
Until then, a tad bit of awkwardness in the conversation lives on.