Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lost and found

It's been just shy of six weeks and once again I find myself in an airport, trying to process the emotions that surface when taking a big journey. I've traveled by plane, train, bus, car, taxi, auto rickshaw, boat and motorcycle. I've crossed the globe, crossed from the north to the south of the Indian subcontinent, crossed cultural boundaries and perhaps most significantly, crossed personal borders. What a long, strange trip it's been!

There's been a lot of lost and found on this journey. Loss of life touched me directly not once but twice in India. In both instances I found the singular connectedness that death can foster in those who remain to be a source of so much joy and comfort that it far outweighed the grief. I lost the token of my father that I have carried with me since his passing, a gold mezzuzah he'd worn on a chain around his neck. I kept it with me in the same pouch that held my mala beads and would wear it around my own neck while praying, meditating and other such sacred moments. Recently added to that pouch was a delicate tulsi necklace given to me here in India by Shyamdas, another token of a dearly departed soul who touched my life in so many ways. I can only interpret the loss of these two necklaces to mean that neither my father nor Shyamdas wanted to leave India. They found a home here, so the little piece of them that I physically carried with me shall remain. A little piece of me will too as I've found myself very much at home here.

I've lost any qualms imbedded in me by western upbringing when it comes to things like squat toilets, eating with your hands or belching freely for all to hear. I've found I delight in customs like never passing something to another person through a doorway, touching your heart in apology should your foot come into contact with someone and sitting around a "torch" chatting with whoever happens to have popped by during the scheduled power outages. There's a certain beauty and simplicity to these things that I find so compelling.

I lost the notion that I'd be hard pressed to connect to an Indian man, having met someone who I've undoubtedly shared many lifetimes with. But I also found that I am very attached to my independence and autonomy and struggled hard to be authentically amorous in a place that heavily restricts outward signs of affection. I've been in interracial and interfaith relationships before, more so than with partners that match me with those particular demographics, so I have an understanding of what it takes to nurture a relationship between individuals of distinct backgrounds. Yet even with that experience and my fascination with all things Indian, this particular cultural divide seemed so great I never thought I'd cross it romantically. I'd now say that is partially true, but not in all cases. I've found that love is love no matter where you are from, and while we may not readily see it's outward signs if our eye is untrained, they're always there. It's down to the lovers involved to find a language of their own to communicate in, to transcend the boundaries. 

Also lost is a little bit of my ego, while the recognition of how much is left to sublimate has been found loud and clear. It's easy to be all "peace, love and lentils" when you're on vacation, away from the stresses and expectations of life at home, flowing along. But when things go pear-shaped and life gets challenging, so often it's our ego that takes over in the form of anger, fear, jealousy, etc and it is in those moments that we can truly gauge just how big our ego truly is. I've been consciously working to be a more patient and compassionate individual for quite some time now, and for the most part that is exactly the face that showed up during my time in India. Yet during the few stressful moments that arose, I saw I still have much ground to cover, and I welcome it.

Life is largely about finding balance, and so I'd say between all that was lost and all that was found on this adventure, I'm emerging more balanced than when I started out. I've had the experience I so longed for, immersing myself in such a magical place, connecting deeper to my spirituality, coming to know more about my own inner workings as well as the world I inhabit. I connected to old relationships and forged new ones. I've come to appreciate my past and my foundation in a new way while simultaneously forming a new vision for what my future could hold. The trip may have been long and strange in ways, but it was also completely magical, informative and inspired, everything I hoped and more, leaving me feeling very balanced and centered in the present moment. What more could I ask for than that?

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