“Chaos is what we’ve lost touch with. This is why it is given a bad name. It is feared by the dominant archetypes of our world, which is Ego, which clenches because its existence is defined in terms of control.” ~ Terence McKenna
I’ve not travelled at such a fast pace in a very long time. Travelling to settle in a place for a few weeks, a month, a few months is a very different feeling to spending 2 or 3 days in a place for me. I’m not used to picking up the vibe of a place and processing it in such a short amount of time and the result is me sitting here exhausted, run down with the flu, overwhelmed. But we had to do it this way. Neither Sophie nor I have been to this country before so the big to-do list emerges, it’s kind of unavoidable, we want to see it all to get an understanding of what we like here. It’s hard for me though to summon angles for stories, decide what I think of a place and make sure to capture that in photos, when I don’t even know what I think of it yet. So photo-taking, instagramming, it all feels a bit haphazard and insufficient in expressing all I’m seeing right now. I’m just doing my best to keep up.
India is obviously supercharged, in both good and bad ways. I keep flashing back to travel in Vietnam, Cambodia and Bali - they were all training ground for how busy and crazy this country is. Everything here is bizarre and strange, and so wild compared to the orderly world I grew up in back in Australia. I’ve always loved this about Asia, I’ve always found it freeing, that everything is so messy and thrown together, unplanned, chaotic and yet life happens anyway. It makes me feel more at home, less separate, like there’s nothing wrong with my own somewhat messy, thrown together, chaotic life/mind/way of being. This part of Asia makes me feel validated, happy and free.
India takes this to another level though, as wondrous as it is uncomfortably foreign, delightful as it is alarming. I think there’s a big part of me that believes it’s only amidst this chaos, hs storm of activity where everything is allowed to flow freely as it will, that truth has the freedom to come forth. Good things are created from this freedom and unrestricted chaos. And maybe that’s just a personal thing for me, a backlash against the very ordered, comfortable, easy existence I have lived most of my life. I’ve always felt that Europe was very free, but it’s even more pronounced here in South-East Asia and India I think. Life and people are allowed to flow freely, fluidly, without restrictions, stoppers. I think I’m meant to live in these foreign cultures to be exposed to this different way of seeing things, in order to incorporate my own fluidity, freedom, to expand my reality, perspective, consciousness, to see people living in a less ordered world.
In Varanasi, the sheer number of people on the streets and bathing in the Ganges was incredible but overwhelming. It was the end of a two-day festival when we arrived late at night in traffic, with many Indian tourists in town for the occasion. Even just walking through the middle of town in a constant crush of people felt both exhilarating in its foreignness as well as just a bit too much to handle energetically. My sister taught me a trick that I’ve been using though: if I’m feeling overwhelmed in a crowd, I picture my golden bubble that encircles me (I put this up every morning in my head) has mirrors all over it, reflecting back everyone’s energy as it hits me. Immediately this seemed to work.
We visited Agra to see the grand Taj Mahal and Jaipur too in the last week. With each new place and person we meet, we’re learning more about how things are done here, the rules, sometimes the hard way.
I think the most bizarre and delightful thing that happens here is how you can be walking down the street amongst the traffic, the motorbikes, the pedestrians and street food carts and a goat just appears as a part of the throng passing you, making its way down the street the same as anyone else on their way to somewhere. This makes me laugh, it makes me happy, a perfect example that life and letting things run wild can make life more interesting, delightful.
Today we’re in Bundi, a town much more off the tourist trail than places we’ve been to so far. It’s a little mountain town, we’re staying in a beautiful family run hotel on a hill, Bundi Vilas, (story on this soon). We’re both sick and rundown at this point after so much movement and activity, so we’re taking it easy up here, resting and working on our laptops. Our trip will be less chaotic from now on, the pace will slow as we head South to the beach in Kerala to stay in a guesthouse for two weeks to relax and do our work online. But I wouldn’t have skipped the true chaos we’ve seen and felt and been a part of. It’s brought up a lot of new ideas and challenged me to remain calm, grounded, present inside so I can appreciate and see all the wonderful things that can only exist within chaos. Everything is perfect as it is.
I’m decidedly not a type-A personality, there isn’t even one of these types in my family, it’s not how we are. My father is an ideas man who kind of has to create a wonderful, sometimes not-wonderful chaos around him. He somehow gets things done, in his own unique and often very good way with the help of other more organized people around him. This is something my siblings and I have inherited from him, whether through nature or nurture I don’t know. I unconsciously always thought there was something wrong with me because of this. At school, at university, in an office job, running my own business, there’s an unspoken book of rules in the Western world that things should be done in a certain way. Things are supposed to be completed via the most efficient, straightest route to the end. But I think you miss a lot this way too. There’s a place too for a chaotic mind because chaos means ideas, options, alternatives, it’s exploring new ways through creativity and possibility, making do, resourcefulness, everything is thrown up in the air and when it lands often something very special and unique comes forth.
Being in the presence of all this chaos, fluidity in Asia makes me feel it’s ok to embody this chaotic, creative part of me, bring it into the light and both make best use and make allowances for this. This is who I am. The ultimate lesson for me lately is the perfect imperfection of all things.
I’ll write again next week
p.s. Listening to this one this a lot, Lisa Mitchell's new album out this week, this is literally all I'm listening to this week!