On Letting Go And Living After India.
It has been a week since I returned from India (courtesy of Coca-Cola) and I am still processing the experiences and emotions from the trip. As I reflect on each village we visited that was struggling with needs that even the poorest families in the USA have free access to, such as water, food and bathrooms, I can’t help but feel that the trip has changed me.
When I first arrived home, I was still in caught up in the rush of India. Not necessarily a high rush, but perhaps more of a sensory overload of the poverty, masses of people, trash and (even in the midst of all of that chaos) hope and inspiration that I witnessed. The communities I visited took something seemingly small in the USA and made it into a full-on movement. Clean water meant that women now had more time to concentrate on their own passions and dreams, such as following through with studies or simply spending more time with their families. When you see and hear that, you cannot possibly come home unchanged. You just can’t.
I wasn’t quite myself when I got home. Of course, I was overjoyed to see my family who I hadn’t seen for a week, but I was obviously distracted. I still had India on my mind – the memories of the woman at the Career Development Center who lovingly decorated my arm with henna, the village head leader in Soda Village who WAS A WOMAN and gave the village women confidence to speak up and show their faces, the sweet children at Thimmareddy School who were thriving because they finally had proper bathrooms – and it was quite difficult shutting that out. In fact, I don’t think I can ever entirely shut that out, nor do I want to.
So, my mind has been all over the place since my return and I’m having a bit of trouble categorizing these thoughts and feelings. I have deeply contemplated my life this year, the highs and lows, and compared it to the lives I witnessed in India. Actually, I cannot stop comparing my life to India. I feel guilty in many ways, for essentially having unlimited resources and not always maximizing their value and worth. For having a voice in the online community, though not always using it wisely or for good. I am having trouble not feeling the guilt about everything.
I have given a lot of thought to the people in my life and community. The petty arguments, politics and toxic relationships, as well as the positive, warm and loving people, all combined in one space. I thought about a dear friendship that I lost a few months back that I spent days in agony over, but couldn’t be fully repaired. I thought about an instance in the online community where I was publicly humiliated for false accusations and had to remove myself from people that respected and cared for. I thought about all of these these hurtful moments, then thought about India, and the pain seemed to pull away. My purpose (and I’m still trying to pinpoint what that purpose is) seemed to mean more than holding on to that hurt or enduring emotional roller coasters. In fact, the world is much bigger than this hurt. Poverty is much bigger than this hurt. Dirty water is much bigger than this hurt. Women’s rights is much bigger than this hurt.
I also thought about my life and family. Even with the rough (or what I thought was rough until I visited India) childhood I encountered, as well as lack of healthy parental guidance in my life, I somehow fell upon the right path, or perhaps my purpose. Along with my husband, I have made many wonderful things out of nothing, including our unique children, businesses, amazing relationships and a healthy home. I don’t always deserve it, either, but yet, here it is and I am thankful. I don’t want to waste a lick of it, especially now, and I feel as if I need to share my resources as much as possible. I am still figuring out what that means exactly, but I do know that what I’m currently doing is not enough.
The henna on my arm is starting to fade, my index finger to my knuckle is already erased, and I feel as if I have until it completely disappears from my arm to implement a new mindset and philosophy. A philosophy that concentrates on letting go of petty stress and worry for good. Letting go of toxic relationships and activities (like stress and worry) forever and maximizing the resources and positive energy I have for good. All that excess energy that I have been spending on worrying, arguing and pettiness hasn’t lead to anything but more worrying, arguing and pettiness, and honestly, I’m ready to call it quits. I have too much to offer my family, friends, community and my new friends in India to spend my days running in circles. This life is short, too short, and I don’t want to spend it spinning. So, I’m letting go.
Thank you, India, for helping me let go.
Follow #5by20 for tweets from the trip.