Things I learnt on my first job as an employed traveller

Things I learnt on my first job as an employed traveller

Being a believer that careers are a 21st-century thing of which I do not count myself as a big fan of, last summer after one year of Unemployed Travelling, several volunteering gigs and few odd jobs later I finally set out on a hunt for my first official full-time job. Now I was clear in my head about two things. I wanted to try my hand working in the travel industry but I did not want a city job with a 9 to 5 lifestyle. Because it was more important for me to determine how the job would affect my everyday quality of life and the time that would be spent before and after my work hours. Set with this idea I started looking for work and being a millennial I took to social media to help me with it. Almost as if having cracked the Facebook and Instagram algorithm, the Universe started showing me job openings on my social feed that fit the description in my head of what I wanted.

In a month’s time after various rounds of applications with few potential companies, I finally had a job which fit most if not all the boxes in my head. I remember it was my 24th birthday and I was telling my friend how I was in no mood to go out that night. With despair, disappointment and defeat slowly seeming like close acquaintances in my life, I couldn’t really see any reason to go out and celebrate. Just then I got the call that I was waiting for with the news I wanted to hear. I was going to start working full time as a Content Manager for a socially driven travel company from a small remote village in Himachal Pradesh called Chaminoo in Chamba valley. Little did I know that with this new journey life was all set to teach me the much-needed lessons at that point in my life.

1.    When you do things that move your soul, the limits of your body and mind are stretched to expand a little every day.

Filled with the enthusiasm of a young soul ready to serve her purpose in this world. I got straight down to work a day after I got settled in my small mud room in a 100-year-old house. I was slowly trying to let the reality of my new life, new home and new job sink in when on the 5th day on the job I was asked by my boss if I would like to join him on a 5-day trek to the Churah Valley. It seemed too good of an opportunity to pass on which is why even though I had no prior experience of trekking, I said yes. My work required me to document the Shodh Yatra which was one of the optional courses offered at IIM-A.  The yatra was led by Prof. Anil Kumar Gupta a Padma Shree Awardee, an independent thinker and the man behind the envision and inception of the initiative called the Honey Bee Network which worked towards upliftment of grassroots regions by making use of the cross-pollination of knowledge and innovative ideas between the Shodh Yatris and the villagers. During the trek, I was exposed to harsh realities, extremities and the beauty of it all in the grassroots. The time I spent walking, climbing for hours every day while simultaneously documenting, observing and taking down notes during daily sessions by the Professor while also making sure I help out my team with other on ground managing during the trek showed me how to push the limits of my mind to overcome and conquer the limits of my body and vice versa.

I have always seen myself as a walker than a climber. Which is why I will tell you the one thing that they almost never tell you about climbing that after climbing a great mountain, one only finds that there are many more mountains to climb in life. So whenever you are climbing all you really need to do is focus on where you are right now and then take the next step forward. If you keep doing this without looking up to see how far you are left to cover, you will reach your destination eventually and then when you finally look back you will be amazed to see all the distance, difficulties and obstacles that you managed to cross and overcome on your journey. If you keep looking up to see how far you are left to cover and climb before you make it, then you would be just limiting yourself by focusing on the “farness” of your destination instead of moving forward with your mind body and soul in sync to help you push the limits of your mind and body with each step that you take forward. Similar to this climb, the more I started doing things which felt in sync with my soul the more I was being challenged in life to push and expand the limits of my body and mind. Which is when I realized that

If life gives you a difficult mountain to climb know that it is doing so because it is offering you a chance to expand your limits and help build a stronger you. Now it all depends on how you decide to make the climb. By always looking at the farness of your destination or by focusing on the here and now of each step that you take.

2. Happiness like knowledge is real when shared.

After taking the plunge from being an unemployed traveller to an employed traveller. Shifting to the mountains. I was slowly learning how to live, travel & work all by myself in absolute isolation from the modern world, with no one to share the difficult days or the small beautiful moments or learnings of my everyday life. With loved ones & friends being only available on calls sometimes. I thought I had mastered the subtle art of being alone over the years. But I was wrong. There is a difference between being alone & wanting to be alone. You don’t have a choice in the first one while the latter is yours to choose. Earlier with college, adulting, unemployment, having to make decisions about travelling & understanding what I wanted. It was easy being alone & by myself for as long as it was needed because that’s what I wanted & that’s what’s required by individuals who are on a journey of self-exploration searching for answers to make sense to the restlessness inside of them. But never having experienced the other side of it, when the restlessness is gone & you are at peace with your old questions & doubts at the moment. I didn’t know if I would still be feeling the same way about being alone now that I was where I wanted to be and was meant to be at that moment in time and life. I realized that the more I was able to understand life & my role in it at a particular point in time. The more I was sorting after the company of my loved ones & like minded people (I like to call them as my soul tribe) around me to share my thoughts & happiness with them to learn and grow with them.

Romeo my loverboy, my roommate and my only companion on the good and bad days in Chaminoo.

The first month of this shift was extremely difficult. Having to deal with all these new changes in my life, new feelings & reactions to some of those changes while my family was away travelling and thus remained out of contact for almost 20 days as I shifted & started working in Himachal, seemed difficult to grasp all by myself on some days. For the first time, I experienced a longing for my family & home. During this time, I re-watched my all time favourite movie, “Into The Wild”. (For those who haven’t watched the movie or read the book. Do it NOW!)  Now until that point I had always been of the opinion that the ending of the movie was a happy one. Because unlike other people, Chris got to choose and chase his idea of happiness he wanted to live by and actually live it for himself. Which is why the few years of his life on the road probably made him more alive and fulfilled than any other person out there who spent their entire time living a life that does not reflect a choice made by their free will which was truly theirs to begin with. This was until someone tried to question my opinion by making me see that the timing of his realization that “Happiness is only real when shared” coincided with the days nearing his death all alone in the wild when he is finally able to understand that the elusive solitary happiness he desired was envisioned with a false sense of happiness. I would probably be over dramatizing if I try to say that after one year of travelling solo followed by the months living all by myself in a remote village that didn’t even exist on a modern day Google map, made me finally understand how Alex’s adventure into the wild all by himself must have made him feel when he had lived his dream but was the verge of dying alone without getting a chance to share the happiness he felt during his life on the road.

 Luckily for me, I didn’t have to be on my deathbed to understand the lesson that cost him his life in the end. I, unlike Alex, still had the time to go out there and give life another chance with this renewed understanding of life, happiness and my role in it. To live, learn and grow in life, all while being able to open myself to sharing my moments of happiness of slowing down as I watch that sunset, that starry night, that walk in the deep forest, the morning chai by the riverside and all the other fleeting moments that we call life with someone else. It took a long time but I finally learnt that

Happiness even if short-lived and elusive is real when shared. You could have understood the meaning of life and happiness but you will not stay that way for long until you do not lean into the happiness that lies within self-disclosure of a particular truth or a moment in time and space with another soul. Because in the end sharing your happiness with someone is what becomes part of happiness.

3. Be grateful to people who show their true selves and their way of life to you, even if it is unpleasant at times.

The more I travel, the more I see. The good, the kind, the bad, the ugly, the greedy, the beauty & the pure. Every shade of humanity has shown its hues and textures to me. The more I see, the more I am better able to understand not only how people around me are but also better understand myself along with the shades and textures of humanity that I want to fill my empty canvas of the self with. One of the most difficult question ever to be asked in the history of man and time is, “Who am I?” The answer to it isn’t easy but it isn’t impossible to get an answer to as well. I realized that who we are is a question that doesn’t really have an answer when we first ask it. The answer is in the journey. You question, you seek & you don’t settle until you finally learn to see the reality about everything surrounding you. And the more you seek & the more you see, the closer you will be to the answer of who you are. Because you see, we were created to create. Everything that’s created by us is us. Be it your dreams, your actions, your decisions, your definitions, and your way of seeing. It is all you. And this is when the answer to who you then slowly start to form a shape, a word and a reality.

Which is why the more you live, the more to seek, the more you see, the better able will you be to get closer to finding or more like curating the answer to that question. In the end don’t shy away from the answer that’s showing itself to you in your reflection because it’s who you are at that moment and whether you choose to stick with that reflection is for you to decide, settle or work on. And while you are at it, try not being so hard on yourself and on the answer, because in the end, it will be the journey that will help you with your question and not the answer to that question itself. So keep calm and just keep looking.

During my first initial months of working on my first job, there were times when I was being shown the unpleasant side of humans around me. A lot of which made me question my decision of being there. But then a friend told me to observe my thoughts, reactions and feelings towards things, situations and people around me. Because observing them would help me understand myself a little better and the world that I live in and then accordingly choose my place and role in it.

If someone is being unfair around you, if someone is being dishonest or unkind around you and watching them be that is making you uncomfortable then know that their being that way is only showing you all the ways that you do not wish to live your life as. If someone’s dishonesty angers you, thank them for showing you their dishonest way of living life and thus assuring that dishonesty is not the way for you to lead your life. If someone shows their strength in difficult times and it moves you, know that observing their strength is something that will help you in all the times that you need to emit strength in your life.

So do not be cross with those who are not kind or fair with you in your life. Instead look at them as a reflective mirror of learning for a human and be extremely grateful to them for showing you how they move in their lives and thus helping you understand and realign your way of moving in life. Which is why I tell myself every day to

Be grateful for everything in life, the good the bad and the ugly because all of them put together are slowly working towards taking you to a better place inside your heart, in the outside realm of the physical world and finding your place in it.

4. Art as a way to express and heal all that lies broken, buried and neglected inside.

One of the few things that I am extremely happy and proud of doing in my life so far includes the idea of organizing an Art Weekend in the Hills with my friend Aastha as the workshop artist. I had just gotten over with the Shodh Yatra trek and was now shifting my focus on curating event ideas to be organized at our various properties around Himachal and Rajasthan.

My first canvas painting of a cloudy day at Mystic Village during the Art Weekend.

Before I tell you more about the event let’s take a flashback into my childhood. Growing up I used to sketch and draw all the time. I was always involving myself in art and craft at school and home. But it all came to a halt when I stepped into my teens. I was still keeping myself involved with extracurricular activities but art came to a standstill for me. Maybe it was seeing others around me who were better at it thus making me question my skills. This only became worse when I got into LSR for under-graduation and then to NIFT for my masters. One of the best colleges in the country where the students excelled at everything they did thus leaving me feeling like a jack of all trade and ace of none.

Which is why years later I was still being hesitant while designing the workshop activities but the only thing keeping me going at it with positivity was my hundred percent confident in Aastha, her love for art, colours and her ability to make people enjoy them both with her. So when the event started and the guests started arriving at Mystic Village, a 200-year-old village near Khajjiar my initial hesitance and nervousness slowly faded away as I too sat down with the participants and picked up the paint brush to finally get back to painting as an adult. And once I did, there was no stopping me. In no time I was using paints and the pages of my little diary to express all that was broken, buried and neglected inside me.

I was discovering a whole new world of colours and consciousness. I started experimenting with meditative art and learning how to let the subconscious power of my mind flow through my artwork. The more I painted or doodled the more I was learning how to experience a state of mindfulness in this process much like the one I would experience during my meditation. Which is why I am really grateful for my first job, my friend Aastha and the Universe for making me realize that

We don’t have to be artists to create art in life. And with that realization, I learnt how to let go of another barrier of self-limitation that I had created in my head for all those years.

5. The universe is listening and miracles are possible.

Sitting in a remote village in Himachal, cut off from people, city life, I noticed that despite being away from some finer things in life, lately somehow life had been extremely generous towards me. Things that I sometimes wished for came true the very next day. Be its craving for a chocolate cake & having a family come down to H2O House to celebrate their father’s birthday with a chocolate cake all the way from Delhi the next day. Or me wishing to have a puppy to play with and the cook bringing a puppy to the house that very night.

I remember one day I was craving for sharing a sunset in silence with someone. It was a busy week for us at the homestay and being in my phase of solace I had managed to steer away clear from any guest interaction the whole weekend. Until one morning I felt like striking up a conversation with two guests who had flown down from Dubai for two weeks in Himachal Pradesh. It was their last day with us and I liked them from the moment we met as they both seemed wonderful & likeminded. They showed me pictures of the sunset they saw the previous day & it struck cord with my yearning from the other day to see a sunset. Suddenly I had a really strong intuitive feeling that I must go with them to catch the sunset. I had work to finish that day but I realised ever since I had shifted to Chamba I had never just gotten out & explored on my personal time. Also since just the other day, I had expressed my love for chasing sunsets & here I had two sunset chasers asking me to join them in doing that. I didn’t know how to say no to this. And that’s how I ended up having an absolutely wonderful day with two kind strangers who turned out to be just the right company I was hoping to go watch a sunset in silence with. The best part was that when I saw one faint rainbow that day I told myself how I had never seen a full double rainbow and guess what I saw the very next day! Yes, you are right. A full sized double rainbow!

Such small miracles left me feeling extremely grateful for every second of my life. It helped me realize what truly makes me happy and content. Yes, I would crave for some city food that I kept seeing on Instagram and would miss spending time with my close friends & family but then I would be reminded of the everydayness of my life here in Chaminoo and the cravings would just go away! Which brings me to the lesson I learnt that

The Universe is always listening and which is why we should never hesitate from asking for what we want in our lives because you never know when the next miracle might happen in your life. So believe in yourself and don’t shy away from putting out in the universe a message of what you wish to manifest and live within your life.

I am currently learning to practicing the power of manifestation and I can’t wait to see how it turns out for me!

6. It is good to take a blind leap of faith and jump into uncertainty with your intuition.

Once in a while, it’s always a good idea to take a leap of faith in life. It’s okay to feel that things might not work out the way you want them to before you throw yourself off the cliff of choices & decisions. But don’t let this limit you from putting yourself out there for all kinds of things to hit & bump into you in life. How do you expect to get where you wish to be if you don’t prepare yourself to take a few risks.

When things finally start working out for someone, we as outsiders will only see that pedestal of success & happiness that the person is currently standing on. But what we fail to notice is how they got to that place just as we fail to count the number of times things went bad for them, decisions turned out to be wrong, disappointment & despair surrounded their dreams with the chance of failure always lurking around the corner for them as they dodged it all, embraced it all, fought it all with each step they took a leap of faith only to finally reach a place they had wished to be at before the jump.

The sooner we realize this whole picture and understand that everything good and worthwhile comes to those who know that life is nothing but a series of one blind leap of faith after another the sooner will we be able to reach not where we want to be but where we are meant to be.

When you reach the end of what you should know, you will be at the beginning of what you should sense. Because you only grow by coming to the end of something and by beginning something else.

So let’s together put what’s reached its end behind us and learn how to sense that which awaits us.

7. Of understanding turbulence and Heraclitus’s Universal Law of Flux

My home in Chamba was a 100-year-old mud and clay house built over various streams and a river flowing 10 steps away from my room. Initially with the sound of flowing water coming from every direction and echoing like a snooze button that goes off every second of the day and night I thought I was going to go deaf with all that noise. Yes, I am addressing the otherwise soothing sound of flowing water as noise. As surprising as it was for me back then, I was in a confused state with the way I was reacting to my proximity to a river flowing in full zeal.

I would tell myself everyday that the river is just 10 steps away, I can go there anytime. But it took me a month to finally go down to the riverside. I clearly remember that morning I woke up, went out, looked at the mountains staring back at me the same way they did every other morning with a realization of the “nowness” of the place I was in. But that morning it felt different to me. I could sense something inside me that was urging me to walk down those 10 steps and go to the riverbed. And so I did.

Trying not to let the sound of the river overwhelm me and change my mind. I slowly took a step followed by another in the clear water of the river letting the cold current send a quiver up my feet, deep into my veins making its way to my chest and finally all the way up to my brain. I stood like that with both my feet in the river trying to let the soles of my feet adjust and find balance on the river stones below them. Letting the energies of the elements of earth and water wash away the dead weight from the flesh on my feet that I had been carrying with me all these years of walking, falling, crawling and running. As if trying to get to a riverbank to find recluse for my tired soul and see an image reflecting like a mirror with the truths of life. A truth that talked about a river that forever flows and a turbulence that causes the flux to its flow.

I sat quietly next to the riverside for some time, meditated for a while and then came back to my room to go on with my daily tasks. But something had changed in me that day. I felt like I had been shown a way to carve my way out of the turbulence that was causing an obstruction in my flow of life. As I continued to repeat this little routine everyday of going down to the riverside and spending time next to it. Much like two rivers and old lovers who were separated by the flow of the river had finally found a way to re-join their course once again and flow as a mighty single river once again.

The more time I spent next to the river the more I started thinking about its nature. I tried to understand this mystery of finding flow by indulging in some mindful painting sessions. What flowed from these sessions were abstract thoughts that I would blurt out on paper after finishing my painting while I was still under the influence of my subconscious and mindful state of mind. I am still trying to put these thought jigsaw pieces together and make this dialogue more structured but I am sharing below whatever I have managed to articulate so far. Let me know if you can relate to it or would like to help me take this dialogue forward by contributing your thoughts on it.  

14th October 2018

Distraction from Turbulence

Turbulence in the flow of this river called life is inevitable but that must not stop us from simply flowing or being. The rock we find on our way forward triggers the friction, the chaos, the rapids that go on to create an obstacle in the otherwise gentle flow of the river. But then why does the sound of the rushing, gurgling and flowing river sound soothing to our ears and soul? How does an obstruction to the flow of one source of life be the remedy to appeasing that which is stuck in our lives?

Since turbulence is inevitable one must learn how to cave out a way over it. Like the river does with the rocks it finds in its course and thus producing the healing sound of flowing water and nature at its best in order to help us sense and learn from the same about our tired souls trying to realign its course to a path meant just for us to walk on. The sound of the flowing water is thus nothing but a distraction from the turbulence in its flow and course.

Universal Flux

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river  and he’s not the same man.”

– Heraclitus

Heraclitus said all things pass and nothing stays and comparing existing things to the flow of a river, he says you could not step twice into the same river.

Thus suggesting the inherent impermanence of the nature of everything in this Universe. Everything is shifting and changing around us every passing moment. I am never the same person I was yesterday. So I must learn to not let the past experiences and inhibitions guide my current thoughts and decisions in a situation that has come into my life for a second time around. I must therefore forget all that I thought I knew and understood about that particular situation or person from my previous encounter with them, because owing to universal flux neither me nor them are the same in this very moment thus freeing us from having to stepping into the same river twice. Because it is not the same river and you are not the same person as you were when you stepped in it the first time around.

River of Life & Flux

We can say that the flux and flow happen simultaneously at the same time without ever stopping. That is the law of nature and life. Then why do we feel stuck at times, unable to move forward despite the law of flux and flow. This is where the rocks in the river and understanding turbulence in flow comes in the picture.

The rock obstructs the flow but does it really obstruct it? In some cases, it does. But if you watch the flow of the river carefully and over a long period of time you will notice how overtime the flow learns how to cut and carve through the obstacle and learns how to overcome it to then continue flowing and doing the same with other obstacles on its way.

The sound created with this i.e. the river carving its way (flow) over the rocks produces the sounds of turbulence that seems to be extremely soothing, peaceful and healing to our ears and we call it the sound of the flowing river. Not understanding that it is the sound of turbulence and because we only see the river (life) we attribute the beauty to it instead of doing it to the turbulence who is the actual cause of the obstruction of the flow that eventually creates the sound. Turbulence in the flow of this river called life is inevitable but that must not stop us from simply flowing or being.

The way I see it, the sound of flowing water is nothing but a soothing distraction from the turbulence in its flow and course. Which like I mentioned earlier is inevitable so why feel disheartened when we too can learn to carve a way with our flow like the river does with its obstacles and let this process start the resonance of healing in our lives as well.  

Similarly, if we learn how to treat the turbulence in our lives as an opportunity to learn how to carve our way over it and flow despite its existence in our life, our actions, words and being will also produce the same healing sound of nature that the river does when it starts flowing over the turbulence in its flow.

But what is turbulence? How does one understand it? Let alone overcome it?

And with this question I end my blog about the things I learnt on my first job as an employed traveller. I hope you had a nice time reading it. Because I sure did while writing it. I would love to read your thoughts on it in the comments below. Also if you would want to share with me something you learnt on your job or life which was similar to this then go ahead and write to me in the comment section. I am all ears for it.

Until then stick with people who pull out the magic in you and not the madness. Because they aren’t lying when they say that your vibe attracts your tribe.

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