“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” ~ Hunter S. Thompson
Traveling has always been a mind and heart-expanding experience for me. The newness is refreshing, the serene landscapes are captivating, and above all there is something about traveling that instantly leads to a shift in consciousness.
We recently went on a long sojourn after a gap of about 4 years. Phew! It was a long wait. But we made up for the lost time, and travelled with 3 children for almost 50 days. There were challenges along the way, but the beauty brought time to a standstill.
Landscapes that looked like scenic desktop backgrounds and discomforting/challenging experiences on a few occasions was a true test of one’s grit and patience. It’s not always a perfect holiday, and that’s the best part about road tripping.
Here are 5 things that I learnt about life from our road trip.
“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” ~ Ibn BattutaSimplicity is the peak of civilisation
You have to go with the flow
In the mountains, bad weather, rainy days, landslides are all common occurrences that can change your plans, you have to be able to adapt to the changing situations. Instead of fretting over it, or whining about how bad the weather is or that your plans have to be changed, there’s no choice but to go with the flow. That is the only way forward.
Acceptance is such a crucial quality to nurture in daily life. When you resist it, it brings about conflict, stress, anxiety and overthinking.
Traveling teaches you to accept any situation that comes up on the way, because when you don’t, you cannot progress on your journey and your stuck, literally and metaphorically, as well. Why ruin the moment, accept it and make it beautiful.
You have to trust
Living in a city often makes you skeptical and always keeps your guard up. Should I trust this person or not, there is always a big doubt. On one occasion, we had gone for a drive to another state close by, around 2.5 hours away from the guest house to catch a glimpse of glaciers. The drive was scintillating, so while returning back to our guest house, the road was blocked due to a landslide.
We waited for some time thinking it would clear, but it was almost evening and the driver of the JCB was on a holiday. We were left with no choice but to spend the night at a sleepy little hamlet and wait for it to clear tomorrow. Luckily there was a decent room available that served homemade food too.
The following day we had some very important decisions to take. Tiny pieces of rocks kept rolling down the mountain, making the area that was blocked really big. It was impossible to even walk across.
Now we had come with the kids and our friends’ family in our car, and the guest house where our luggage was kept was on the other side of the landslide. What do we do with the car? Should we wait a little longer at the village? Should we trust the locals and leave the car behind?
Many questions/doubts and insecurities were raised, and then we finally decided to trust the locals. They suggested we leave the car in the village, and trek up and down the mountain and go back to our guest house. Once the landslide cleared up, we could come back to collect our car or one of the locals would drive it to the guest house.
We gave one of the fellows our car keys and kept in touch with him over the next few days to stay updated about the situation.
Four days passed, rocks and stones continued to roll down the mountain, the landslide area grew in size as well, blocking even a larger area of the road. The only option left was to hire porters to carry our bags across the mountain and trek it up. A kind old gentleman, grandfather’s age, voluntarily came to help to carry the baby up the slippery mountain slope due to the rain, (he was also the person who would play a role in clearing up the landslide).
We all started walking up the mountain slope, completely focused on the path. We made it within an hour, and the car was parked on the other side of the mountain slope. We heaved a huge sigh of relief. The car was exactly the way it was left.
We thanked them for all the help and the old man who carried the baby didn’t even ask for any kind of compensation. He just wanted to help us as he too has grandchildren. Our hearts were filled with deep gratitude for this kind gesture.
This was a big lesson for us, to learn to trust people and let go of all the insecurities!
Pulls you out of your comfort zone
As we moved ahead on our journey and entered a place known as ‘Paradise on Earth’ – another picturesque location – another adventure awaited us. A huge glacier broke into pieces just when we had to drive through that road. Something beautiful then unfolded.
There were 2-3 more cars who wanted to cross that road too. We all teamed up together, got a shovel from a close by makeshift shop to clear up a small part of the road just so the cars could pass by. With his heart in his mouth, Clyde took the plunge, drove on the edge with meticulous guidance and encouragement from other travellers. “Move right sir, wait, come come, well done Sir,” were the words uttered in such a close situation.
He made it through, everybody was relieved because our car made way for the other cars to pass by as well. It was a team effort. Everyone was happy and we proceeded on our journey ahead.
Traveling is also a way to challenge your own comfort zone.
It brings you in the moment
The very nature of travel is such that the beauty that surrounds you, pulls you out of your wandering monkey mind and immerses you into the moment. You are completely absorbed in it, leaving no space for thoughts to play catch with you. You find your center and the peace within.
The moment is truly lived!
The moment when the Buddhist monks at a monastery were doing their daily prayers using different musical instruments, was so fascinating, you could feel the positive vibrations in the air.
There were several moments that I can recall on our trip where I found myself engrossed in the moment. There was also an instance where tears came rolling down my eyes when I was awestruck by the landscaped vistas around me.
Get a fresh perspective about life
When you visit new spaces, you begin to redefine your own reality, because your mind gets stretched in new ways and forms new neural connections.
The way you view yourself, your world, and how you approach life goes through a major shift. It’s like opening a new door, or reading a new book.
Our visit to Kashmir gave an opportunity to see things differently. Since it is a sensitive place due to its history, there are many army personnel fully armed, stationed within every 300m on major roads. we haven’t seen anything like that before, it did seem discomforting at first. But that was the reality of that place, and it did seem to me that people have accepted that reality and yet to lead a normal life.
Our mind gets so conditioned in believing things without actually seeing it that when reality comes in front of us, all preconceived opinions and notions are completely shattered and it helps to rewrite old perspectives and outdated thinking. Plus speaking with people from different places that have their own cultural backgrounds and getting to know them better adds essence to the journey.
On a few occasions we were also helped by the army on treacherous, winding terrain, and there was no interference as well.
“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live.” ~ Hans Christian Andersen, The Fairy Tale of My Life: An Autobiography
Travel makes you modest, humble and keeps you grounded, because we see what a small part we occupy in this world. Travel for travel’s sake, and allow life to happen to you.