“The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And wither then? I cannot say.”
“Scars are not injuries. A scar is a healing. After injury, a scar is what makes you whole.”
Exactly one month ago, I left my home town in the north of England and set out on an adventure. I quit my job, sold my car, moved out of my flat, sold or gave away many of my belongings, put the rest of them in storage, re-homed my darling cat and said fare thee well to many gorgeous friends. I spent a few weeks visiting my beautiful family, and then last Sunday I boarded a plane to India, which is to be my home for the next 12 months.
Before this year, I’d never travelled. I didn’t take the post-uni, pre-career break to see the world like many people I know did. I’ve travelled around the UK, and on various holidays to Europe, but all the places that I’d visited were within my comfort zone. This spring I decided to travel over the edge of my comfort zone and spend 10 days in Morocco and the Sahara Desert, then four weeks in India. Then I’d return, expanded, fulfilled, and settle into life again.
The trouble with India is that four weeks is not enough. Especially when you arrive in the middle of a heat wave and the majority of places that you intended to travel to are plus 45 degrees centigrade. Yoga in Rishikesh at 48 degrees? Erm, I think I’ll pass. Rajasthan? Out. Of. The. Question. There were deaths in the 54 degree heat of Agra (home of the Taj Mahal). I spent a week by a beach in Goa, then headed to the slightly cooler north and in the shadows of the Himalayas spent two weeks in McLeod Ganj (home of the Tibetan government in exile and the Dalai Lama), and finished my travels with a week in Kashmir.
I thought that would be enough to get out of my system, but the thing with stepping out of your comfort zone is that just over the edge is where the magic happens. Where growth happens. Where you can look around and be met simultaneously with the thoughts of “Holy cow, I don’t recognise anything here!” and “Hey, I think I like it!” And when I saw what a difference it made to my being, I knew that I wanted to return to India. And not just to see the Taj Mahal, but to see myself and the potential that I have of stepping into the best version of me that I can be. And then to step into it.
More than that, I want to document and share this story. I don’t know how it will end, but I know that it’s begun with a promise to my self – to have the courage to seek what makes my heart sing.
– McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh –