Day 119: Westward bound

By on Apr 27, 2011 in The Unruly Ascetic, Uncategorized

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119 days. 
4 months. 

Somehow whenever I go on one of these “put my life on hold and disappear for a while” trips, whether it is India or Yogaville or Ocracoke or wherever, I never really wrap my brain around the fact that life will continue and the trip will end.  I guess I was more aware of that inevitability this time, but still.  I kind of can’t believe it.

and I kind of can’t wait to get out of this 3rd world country.

No, don’t get me wrong. I love India.  This whole experience has been fantastic (a word I overuse daily).  I feel like I actually succeeded in getting everything I had hoped out of it. Crazy, right?  When do we ever really get what we hope for?  Well, I do a lot, I guess.  But I am just lucky.

Looking back on Mysore (looking back on leaving Mysore is more to the point) I realize that it was only the beginning.  I had expected Mysore to work some transformational magic on me.  That the shala or Sharath or the practice (or something) would change me.  Make me more whole or grounded. But it didn’t.  and let me tell you, it was stressful to walk away from the shala and Sharath and the practice without the transformation I was seeking.
But I don’t think I needed what the shala had to offer (I mean, I did. we all do…). 
I already knew that I could discipline myself to practice everyday and listen to a teacher when I have one right across the street.  This was no shocker.  What really brought about change and realization was facing things I hadn’t faced before.  Things like teaching Mysore with my teachers’ blessing. Like sitting in silent meditation for 10 days.  Like partying with strangers. Like hiking (and fearing for my life) in the Himalayas. Like being alone.

And I think that’s all I ever really needed. To be alone.  To face challenges and fears all by myself. Granted, I had company everywhere I went.  I made so many friends and had so many great conversations.  I felt the love from my friends around the world each time I got online.
But really, I woke up each day and made decisions for myself.  There was no one to check up on me.  No teacher to scold me if I wanted to skip practice.  No friend to tell all my fears and joys. No guide to let me know if I was gonna be safe and sound.

And this brought me back to myself. After almost a year of flailing about in the world, of jumping from best friend to best friend, city to city, country to country, I finally feel settled.  And the funny thing is, I am myself again.  I am not a shiny new person who has learned all these lessons. I made new and different choices, I tested my boundaries, I made mistakes. and in the end, I came out the same person I was when I started.

After months and months of feeling frantic and flighty, I am realizing that in order to truly know yourself you have to step out of your comfort zone.  You have to do things that are out of character. Then you have to take a step back and consider the experience, learn from it, process it. 
It is hard and scary. 
When you step out of your comfort zone there is a sense of losing yourself, a sense of being less than what or who you were.  But I know, now, that you can always go back. You always will go back. If you love something enough, like the practice, or your family, or God, or the Earth, then that thing will always bring you back.  If you love it enough, you won’t forget. and no matter how far you push your limits and test your boundaries, if you have something that inspires you, truly, toward a higher goal, it will always bring you back to groundedness. back to yourself.

So, today I leave India. and I feel ready. the time feels right.

Not only am I leaving. But I am going. I am coming. France is ahead of me! I have no idea what to expect.  All I know is that it is going to be different, and that I have probably dealt with worse.
The best thing, though, is that I am ready to not be alone.  I am ready to test my groundedness by coming back to a place where I put my trust in a best friend, a confidant, and a guide. Sure, I’ve made great friends in India, but no one I was really in the thick of it with, no one who was my partner from beginning to end.  So, more than France and the west, I am excited to be with Kelley! As someone once referred to her, my “partner in crime.” So watch out France, you don’t know what you’re in for.


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