Published: September 9th 2011
September 9th 2011
In New Mexico
Incredible that they have a highway dedicated to the kundalini yogi...
Recently, I remembered a scene from when I was around 28 years old. I was sitting on a bench in a graveyard in a little village in Suffolk, England. I was reading a book. I believe it was ‘Zorba the Greek’, and it talked about the author of the book who had travelled widely and for many years around the world, often by ship. I recall being overwhelmed with emotion and longing as I read about this person’s life. Sitting there in this picturesque, desolate burial ground, I thought: will I ever be able to do this? Ever since I could remember, I’d wanted to travel the world like this, and yet I had no idea if and how I could ever make it happen. I had work commitments, property, a boyfriend, pets. My longing remained just that: a longing and a dream.
Seven years later, my life and values had changed drastically. An opportunity presented itself for me to let everything go and do what I had always wanted to do: travel. Initially, I thought I was just going away for a few months. Yet, four years later, I am still travelling – and a life so rich in
On the Pacific Ocean
En route to Australia
experiences, adventures, learning and discovery has emerged that I sometimes still can’t believe it really happened. None of it was ‘planned’. All of it is built on the dream I had and the call I heard in my soul.
As I write this article, I am in my cabin on a cargo ship somewhere on the Pacific Ocean between Panama and New Zealand. Earlier, I stood on the main deck, leaning over the railing as the strong ocean winds tore at my long hair and clothes. I remembered the longing I’d carried within me for so long to travel in this way, a way that is not widely practiced anymore in this day and age, and it reminded me that we must never give up on our dreams. Our dreams and our hearts guide the way to our true selves, no matter how irrational or unachievable they may sound. And, as Paulo Coelho says ‘When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.' I never fail to marvel at the perfection and beauty of life and how wonderfully everything turns out when we get out of the way and let something bigger take control. And to surrender, to not have a plan, can be frightening.
One thing I continuously hear on my travels is ‘So what’s next? What’s your plan?’ The beauty about living a wayfaring life is that the answer often is literally ‘I don’t know’. I just spent the last year in New Mexico. That was never planned. I was never interested in living in the United States. But ironically, my love of India, Yoga and a budding interest in Ayurveda led me to Albuquerque, New Mexico – a big city in the middle of the desert - of all places. It was quite funny really, how it happened. About two years ago, I was back in Leamington Spa, my hometown in England. At the local health food store, I ran into an acquaintance from America, and she told me about a school called the Ayurvedic Institute, where she had studied. ‘Interesting’, I thought at the time. Months passed, and I’d all but forgotten about our little conversation. Yet, one fine morning, I woke up with the thought ‘I have to go and study at the Ayurvedic Institute’. Rationally, it made no sense at all. I hadn’t even researched the place or knew much about Ayurveda. But it felt right. Synchronistically, that day, I ran into my acquaintance again and my mind was made up: I was going to study in New Mexico. I applied to the school, went through the long visa process, was accepted, and that was that. I was going to live in New Mexico.
Now, that chapter of my life is over. It was an interesting and intense experience and I will write more about New Mexico in one of my next blogs. And again, people asked me ‘Where are you going back to?’ ‘Actually, I am going forward’, I replied. ‘I am going to Australia.’ Australia? Really? Yes. Australia. A country I have never been particularly interested in. I’m sure it’s beautiful, but really, my heart is rooted in Asia. But again, ironically, it’s my love for India that is bringing me to Australia.
Three years ago, a little after I’d returned from India, I was living in a small village in Wales to study with my teacher Tony. One day, a young man from India contacted me via this travel blog. This was nothing unusual, as I often receive e-mails from readers of my blog. This person, an auditor called Sameer from the city of Pune, asked me some travel-related questions, and we exchanged a couple of e-mails. A few weeks passed, and just after I had left Wales to stay at an Osho community for a while, Sameer contacted me again. I don’t know what made him different from all the other people who contacted me. But there was a connection, a certain spark, and from that point onwards, we wrote to each other frequently. We talked about our shared love for India, our lives, our travel experiences, and a friendship ensued. It was quite ironic in a way: here I was, a Western woman enamoured with the spirituality of India who lived in ashrams, performed fire ceremonies and played kirtan – the very stuff his country is built on; conversing with an Indian man who worked for one of the world’s biggest auditing firms in Bombay and who was in some ways living a more Western lifestyle than I had ever done. This contrast amused me and we often got involved in long discussions about our values, philosophies and beliefs. I sent him pictures of myself wearing saris, and he returned the favour by sending me photographs of himself wearing a Western suit and tie. Yet, we shared a passion for spirituality, travel, writing and many other things, and soon our friendship had become so strong that we were conversing by e-mail every day. I was writing a book at the time, and so was often online, and Sameer’s presence was with me all through the writing of my book. Soon, we told each other everything that happened to us, skyped often, became acquainted with each other’s friends and families, shared books, passions, victories and defeats. I have no idea how it happened. It just did. Over the last three years, we have become very close. And yet, we’ve never met.
And now, after three years of this rather unusual friendship, we are finally meeting for the first time. This spring, I was wondering what I was going to do after graduating from the Ayurvedic Institute. A thought popped into my mind ‘Australia’. Sameer had moved to Australia eighteen months ago for work reasons, and we’d talked about meeting for a while. With no pressing urgency for me to return to Europe and Sameer just having landed a permanent job in Queensland, this seemed a golden opportunity. I checked and found out that I could take a cargo ship all the way from the USA to Australia. Without much thought about the ‘ifs and buts’, I decided to go for it and booked the trip. So this is where I am going next – to a small town in Queensland, Australia I’d never even heard of before. That’s the beauty of a gypsy lifestyle: I’m never quite sure where I am going next, but when the time comes to move on to another adventure, I know. I learned to trust in that voice and in the guidance of my intuition.
Again, none of this was planned. But travel taught me how to let my life unfold gently, listening to the small signs and nudges of my heart as to where it wants me to go. I have no real plans for Australia, either, other than spending time with Sameer and finish editing my book, which was put on hold while I studied in New Mexico. And then? Who knows? Time will tell.