|serendipity in a campsite playground in northern Chile|
- my big ego. Before i left london, i used the tall poppy metaphor to my therapist to illustrate that i believed i was special. In fact, i said that i was so special that i had a field to myself. She poignantly observed that was quite a lonely existence. Well. Travel, through continually moving and meeting others as well as some serious introspection with the support of buddhist teachings has well and truly started humbled what i thought was me. I see now that at the core i am the same as others, i am dependent (and need) others around me, and that's ok. In my small field of existence i have special qualities that combine to what i perceive as unique, but 'I' am not unique. In fact, 'my' fabricated 'I' is slowly succumbing and just just starting to dissolve into the universe. Seeing the 'I' and 'mine' for the illusion they are is a lifetime challenge. In deep moments of contemplation, i think i see it as it is, but in practice the mind is so so devious and clever, with so many habits conditioned that my ego reigns supreme 99.999% of the time.
- that as self sufficient and independent as i think i am, i need people. It's ok to receive help from someone, it doesn't mean that i'm not capable or not in control, rather i can gracefully accept the gift they are selfishlessly offering.
- that being vulnerable or rather showing vulnerability is ok. Building up a wall to hide behind to control everything doesn't bring happiness. That it's ok to experience the negative; pain, fear, loneliness and then not to try and keep it hidden; but to show it. Not to become caught and attached to it, but to express it and let it go.
- on feeling and expressing compassion - loving kindness, and empathy - as distinct from sympathy. I'm only just realising how to truly do this (hmm perhaps intricately wound up in the humbling of my ego) and it's hard, and needs continual awareness but through it i i am experiencing deeper connections with people i meet
- that as joyful and rewarding it is to do things alone, to be able to feel the touch of some you love and who loves you and sharing these magical experiences is to be treasured. I know one has to love oneself, and in fact loving is in many ways an illusion as you can only love the image/perception you create of the person or relationship, but i'm still unenlightened enough to value/succumb to the illusion.
- that i've lost many friendships through moving around so much and being lazy. Though you meet many people while travelling, these relationships are intense but transient, and because they are often circumstantial, ultimately shallow. That's not to say i've not met people that i've felt a deep and lasting connection with, but i know now how much i miss and value old friends - those who've i spent time with growing together. i guess it's easier to maintain more 'contact-full' friendships when you stay in one place, but no excuses. Oh and hugs. As great as skype is, there's no hugs.
- that there's many ways to live. Travel, especially in developing countries opened my eyes to people in all walks of life, but the revelation i talk of here is closer to the reality of my privileged life. I am over educated (in mind but not in practical experience), have never been forced into a decision, have every option open to me, have always had enough money to do what i want and i've been surrounded by love and support my whole life. there i was chortling down the corporate career path - not because anyone told me to, or expected it of me, but because i might as well and was ok at it. Then i travel..not the rushed european long weekend, or the hanging out at beach house with others like me, nor a 1 week cultural sojourn to a himalayan village, but the looong term travel... Where you meet the seasonal workers who work 4 months to travel cheap the rest, or others who have given up corporate life for 3 months or 3 years, or families with kids trekking or cycling or backpacking for 1 year, people that go on 3 year meditation retreats, those woofing and volunteering, those that have uprooted their lives to run aid organisations and other businesses in remote places and others with no idea what they are doing in general. These guys give me real inspiration that i too can do something to make a difference.
- that though i am learning a lot spiritually from many generous and passionate people, i'm not ready to take refuge in one particular tradition yet. I'm definitely dunking my legs in though and already have found many resonances within with teachings.
I'm not sure if I'm going to blog much more - but I am going to put some highlights together of photos and serendipitous moments from the travels, and I guess this will time nicely with a - 1 month after so watch this space! And, more than likely... I'll be off gallavanting somewhere else sometime soon! Perhaps it's even time to ride a motorbike around Australia? get to know my own country better for a change:)