iUnravel | Notes On Reclaiming The Self

Can a place really change you as a person?
Or perhaps to rephrase that, can a place really get you on the pathway to reclaiming yourself?

In the past one year alone I have travelled to about 10 different places and I seem to be drawn into realizing that my experiences from two of them in particular have been exactly identical.
That these places were visited at very different points in the year (separated from each other by 11 months) is what makes it a little stranger.
That I’d almost forgotten what I’d learnt the first time around… and that the second time around it didn’t seem all that accidental is what really got me thinking.

To be less cryptic, I was in Ladakh in September 2013 and Spiti Valley was where I was about this time last month. The epiphanies, now in retrospect, bear an uncanny resemblance.
Suddenly the world around me as I’d known it, which until Ladakh seemed to be both revolving and rotating in eights (however that was possible), seemed to have found its orbit.
No rocket science here however. Hence I asked the question at the beginning of this post itself.
Spiti - Aug '14
Ladakh - Sept '13
So what were these epiphanies?
i.                  Occupy the moment (a phrase I have shamelessly lifted from somewhere on the Internet): Whether stirring sugar crystals at the bottom of my hot pipping cuppa tea in an attempt to stop myself from shaking like a leaf at the chilly banks of the Tso Moriri in Ladakh
…or when finally learning that I was doing much better on the trek when I synchronised the rhythm of my step with the rhythm of my breath (even though I was still gasping at the altitude of 14000 feet), I experienced for myself what was meant by peace within stillness.
Repeat lesson learnt in Spiti Valley too when after 3 days of being there it suddenly dawned on me that for the first time - since who knows when - my mind hadn't raced to posing and attempting to answer existential questions (like it does almost always).

Source: The Internet
ii.                 Pausetive attitude (also inspired from someplace on the Internet): So cycling down from Khardung La in Ladakh (which is the highest motor-able road in the world at 18000 feet) with nine other co-travellers, it hadn't been too long before I'd figured that I was the one at the tail end. I was the last one - much to the annoyance of the driver who was asked to trail slowly (and now even more slowly courtesy ‘yours truly’) should there have been an emergency.
…Likewise, my takeaways after returning from Spiti are that I’m at ease with where I am. That I am where I am because I chose to be there, not where everyone else wants to be or wants me to be.

Caution - Rocky road ahead: Cycling down Khardung La
iii.               Self-wallah love (my own coinage therefore cheesy): I travel and therefore cause (a) eyebrows to raise when it’s done solo and (b) jaws to drop when it’s done with groups of people I do not know. It’s presumed that the introvert and therefore borderline misanthrope that I am, I must despise humans and therefore crave to be alone.
Me thinks it’s presumptuous to not know what is meant by solitude.
Just as it is presumptuous to not know that travel has always been a great way to meet real people in the real (not virtual) world – who either second your beliefs (that like minded souls do exist) or provide comic relief courtesy their quirks (because it does take all kinds of people to make this world). 
And in both instances you begin to see yourself for who you truly are, minus the pretensions or the expectations.
So you break into a smile when you see your face in the mirror (even if the wind’s in your hair).
And because you accept yourself, you are more accepting of others around you
Ahem! Misanthropy loves company too. Now who’d have thought?

Lil' reminders from a co-traveller so I don't lose sight of the horizon
Then out of nowhere you realize you are happy. Without any external stimulus per se.
-          You don’t feel the need to take responsibility for the things that aren't within your control
-          Your head and heart are now aligned suddenly
-          And the mind feels like it’s resting (just when you’d given up on ever knowing what that meant)
-          Life will still need to be figured out but ‘self assurance’ is a wonderful thing
-          After all it is what it is. And all that there is, is the here and now

These days I hear myself mulling over this: Naysayers exist aplenty around me. Should then one also exist in my head? Hell no.

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