India - my greatest teacher.
Exactly 7 years ago today I landed in Kochi in Kerala for my first ever trip to India. If I’m honest India was never on my radar, but I was in the midst of a turning point in my life. I was standing in between two career paths, the familiar travel, and the world of coaching, feeling as if I had to make a choice and commitment. Personally, I had just crossed a major precipice. I’ve written in the past of my IVF journey to have our miracle baby and the years it took to make that happen. After 7 years Mark and I decided to complete one more round of IVF, to give Charlie a sibling, and when that final opportunity slipped through our fingers in February 2016, I knew I had to move on from the thoughts of more children and focus on the life I had. Create something new. It was a confusing time so when India, came along, it was a YES please without thinking.
They say you don’t choose India, but it calls you in, and as I sit here in Delhi airport, leaving this country for the 8th time, I am living testament to that belief. I’ve spent the last couple of years trying to silence the call, ignore it and move towards other things, which I’m loving, but there has been another voice whispering to me simultaneously. It’s the long-standing belief that I carry, that it has to be one or the other. Yet as I sit here reflecting on the last 10 days, and in particular the people I’ve met, I recognise that it doesn’t have to be that way.
There is room for a lot of life in life, the decision is whether to embrace that.
Yesterday I discussed with my friend Mukesh, would you rather be bored or tired? The context of our conversation was whether you could do multiple things even if they were in different directions. A pattern I notice in myself is that I crave a more simplistic life, then go about putting that in place. Once I get that stability and direction, I start to crave growth, expansion, additional challenges. It’s not coming from a place of wanting more but learning and experiencing more. We both agreed that to be tired from doing all that you love was a way better option than to be bored.
Last night I sat with an incredible woman. I wish we’d had more time together. A hotelier of not 1 but 2 hotels, a mother, a daughter, a wife, running her own school with over 2000 children in addition to operating an NGO. Talk about inspiring. Earlier this week I met another woman, my age, working on something new, at the same time doing multiple projects and moving to a quiet, remote part of the country to spend time living her best life. Also, a mother and a daughter, wearing multiple hats and smiling in her choices. Then there was the woman who made all these interactions possible. Running her own conscious travel company, representing unique hotels and experiences, and connecting a group of like-minded travel professionals.
I’ve been to India enough times to recognise that none of this is by accident. This is the pre-destined way of life that is understood here, and an example of the universe putting you in all the right places you are meant to be, to get the lessons you are meant to receive.
These women have lessons to teach me and I’m willing to play the student in their presence.
And so, I find myself again in Delhi airport, once again emotionally cracked open by this place. It’s a familiar scene for me. One last cappuccino before the flight home, ready to see my family, completely drained and replenished at the same time. The random westerner sitting at her laptop with tears rolling down her cheek. It’s the same every time, even on that very first visit.
Your heart expands when you come to India and it’s just as well because each time you leave, a piece of that heart stays behind. My pieces are scattered across the places I discovered but more so with the beautiful souls I was privileged to spend my time with.
I love you India, see you soon.