Happy Christmas everyone although I hardly feel the jiggle bell spirit after having just witnessed two boys whip themselves then demand rupees for their ‘dazzling’ street show. There is never any shortage of entertainment here. This week I had five different men approach me and insist I watch their twig magic trick. Since “no” is not an accepted response one is forced to be clever and cheeky. When approached and asked the second time if they could woo me with their twig-trick, I responded by saying “how about I show YOU a magic trick”! Before they had time to respond I began to pull-off my index finger— a classic prank that barely captivates most 5 year olds. After the brief, but brilliant performance I outstretched my hand a requested 50 rupees for their time. In every case, the men dropped their twig and walked away. Don’t worry, all of my insights will be in the next dummies edition “How to outsmart and Indian street performer”.
Is it really the end of the year? To be honest, I didn’t know the date until this morning when a local vendor tried to sell me a Santa hat with braids. I then pulled out my phone and was shocked to learn that yes, Christmas is only a few days away.
Over the years I’ve spent a number of Christmas’s away from home. In 2010, I woke up Christmas morning on the airport floor in South Korea since I had an early flight to Beijing. While last year I spent Christmas with my friend and his family due to the Toronto ice storm. Although I love seeing my friends and spending time with my family, being away from everyone during the holiday season doesn’t bother me. No matter where I am in the world there are always people to share with and express love and kindness too so I never feel that I’m alone, lacking or missing out. After all isn’t the season about giving –not necessarily a ‘thing’ but ‘something’ of ourselves to others…?
Not being bombarded with the music, decorations, presents and cooking that comes with this holiday allows one to realize this annual celebration, along with all its STUFF, has blinded us from seeing the truth. Holidays, such as Christmas, are seen as an opportunity to do something nice—make an effort to friends, family, office colleagues and communities. But these holidays are just days. There are 364 other beautiful days in a year. We should see every day as a beautiful gift filled with countless opportunities to be kind and compassionate to others. There is no sense of waiting for a particular day to express a certain thought or feeling. Yet so often we base our actions on a specified calendar event. On this day I will tell someone I love them. On this day I will make a wish. On this day I will start a new diet/ exercise regimen. We live life planning for another day instead of living for today! Seeing the joy, life and vibrancy that is before us RIGHT NOW is often overlooked. We’ve been taught that every day is the grind except for weekends, vacations and holidays; as such, that’s all people ever look forward too. I’m no math genius but that means most people are only truly ‘living’ their life 33% of the time.
In one of my leadership courses they used to say “if it’s Tuesday and someone told you on Friday you would be getting a million dollars, would you wait until Friday to get excited? No, you would get excited now”. The same is true in life. Why wait for a particular day to get excited when you can live joyfully and compassionately each and everyday! After all, we all claim to know that life isn’t about getting or having more stuff since true fulfillment comes in the enriching the lives of others.
Actually, that was the reminder I got last week. I was reminded why I am here. Sure, the book is what led me to India but that does not necessarily mean that’s the reason I am here. What about enriching the lives of others and allowing them to enrich mine?
A friend wrote to me this last week and said:
“I have been to India more than once, but your experiences there sound so much better and healthier than mine”. Basically he mentioned that although he’s been to 126 countries and has seen many attractions, he always feels like he’s running a marathon; trying to see as much as he can. It’s true that we all have our own way of travelling, but sometimes you have to stop and ask, what am I running for?
I realized through this email that although I came here with an intention, I thought I would simply arrive, plop my butt down and write. However, what I’ve realized is the true essence and reason for my being in India could stem beyond the ‘thing’ that brought me here. My reason for being could be in the giving of some ‘thing’ within myself. So last week I took action by doing the unthinkable – the non-action. I stopped moving. I sat. I listened. I slept a lot. I didn’t work out. I took walks. I connected with people, but most importantly I really took the time to listen and hear what they had to say. Initially I found myself frustrated, but one’s greatest growth comes during their greatest discomfort. And didn’t I come to India to give myself time? As such, I chose to start taking the time and just be.
By the end of the week, new layers within myself were revealed. My body and head ached as my mindset began to shift, but I chose to remain still and endure the process. My Yoga teacher used to say “you can breathe your way through anything”, so I breathed my way to a new understanding.
There are no pictures this week because I didn’t take any. The only image I have is a new image of myself.
Happy Christmas everyone!