My Pilgrimmage: Chapter 3

I began to think about my own pilgrimmage- this whole trip around the world thing and what I am pursuing. Happiness of course, but not in a sense of happiness being a material fulfillment. This is no relaxing vacation- it’s not a decision I made as a quick-fix to life. What I do know is that for me, the act of traveling is a form of seeking my own enlightenment, if it exists. Gaining perspective and awareness of myself, others, the world we live in, and my place in it. In the past 7-8 months, this wild ride has propelled me further than I ever could have imagined, rewarding with wisdom and knowledge, shaping values, influencing decisions, creating an achievable balance, and teaching to live within my own morals. I left a great job that afforded me a living in New York, abandoning friends and family (who so selflessly allowed me to fling myself out there and without whom I would never have the courage or opportunity to do this) on this quest for…everything…because it’s what I felt was right for me at the moment. I’m alive now! I am sick of being distracted by the future. I’ve been destructively ambitious since I was a kid, obsessed with future plans and ridiculous goals that resulted in insomnia-inducing anxiety. I’m not saying it’s bad to be ambitious, but in my single-minded focus of ambition, I lost sight of pursuing contentment in the present.
Yesterday I was supposed to north to Manali, the Western Himalayas, I couldn’t wait to get out of this sticky, hellish hot weather. But the agent scammed me and I ended up throwing a huge fit, threatening to call the police. Then I felt bad, each time I repeated the threat of the police, he threw another 500 rupees back at me until I was fully reimbursed- he said he was an honest man that needed to feed his child, and that he would be forced to pay for my ticket out of his own pocket. If this were true, though, why did he agree to give me money back? He was a Kashmiri Muslim. Perhaps he feared the police? If this were the case, I felt really really bad; he knew the police would side with an American tourist over a Muslim from Kashmir. But what could I do? I didn’t know how to feel.
When I relayed the story to Jang, he began a long schpiel on karma- he is a devout Buddhist and had spent time as a monk. Whether or not the travel agent had told the truth didn’t matter- in attempting to scam me, he lost. Jang went on and on and got to the part about me staying with Swamiji in Gangotri, and told me that it was wrong to only stay for 3 days. Swamiji’s charity had been in hope that he could teach me over the course of several weeks and since I could only stay for a few days, I should have just stayed at the ashram. I felt bad that I may have insulted Swamiji, but in the honest truth, it had not been intentional and I didn’t know what Swamiji’s intentions were in inviting me to stay with him. At first I felt the need to defend myself, then realized I was just doing it so that I would be “right” in Jang’s eyes, when all that mattered was that I was being true to myself. In the end, I thanks Jang for his stories and revelations. I wasn’t sure whether I only said it for his approval or if I really meant it. But it just came out. Blah blah blah, I reflected on this for pages in my journal, and I don’t need to publish it on the web. I guess my mind is just spinning right now. How can I not? Every day, I walk out to see the filth, the poverty, the desperation on the streets- these people so poor without the ability to even fathom a dream. I am so, so lucky. How and why was I born into this life that afforded me such great opportunity? I guess that’s why life is about gratitude and seeking enlightenment, if it exists. Maybe I’ll find enlightenment in this lifetime, maybe not.
Fear not my cynical friends, I haven’t become all new-agey and spiritual and shit, but I am excited to have discovered a means of being fully engaged in life. And just like riding my 3-speed vintage cruiser through Manhattan at rush hour, I feel like if I can make this happen, I can make anything happen!
OM (Gangotri)
OM (Gangotri)
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~ by ceciliabien on July 20, 2009.

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