The current lockdown has been a tough time for everybody to go through. Looking at it from another point of view, even though the time has been difficult, if one introspects, one will be able to see the changes in his or her behavior, both, pre and post lockdown.
The idea of self-quarantine and social distancing are quite irritating and exasperating, to say the least. These are rather uncomfortable to execute, considering our cultural background, upsetting a person no end, so much so that he or she losses one's control over oneself, out of sheer exasperation.
A habitual traveler, during his/her sojourns (journeys), too, experiences some very uncomfortable and embarrassing situations among his or her travel companions. Needless to say those happenings, too, knowingly or unknowingly, come in handy during such lockdown periods, as they demand a particular type of behavior, which if inculcated, helps one see through a tough time like a lockdown. These can be termed as lessons learnt from our travels.
Here, I wish to share with the readers various experiences of a very close friend of mine, a habitual traveler, who has been Self-quarantining and social distancing, ever since his return from an overseas trip, and as narrated to me.
“I realized I am most likely looking at a minimum of another month alone in my apartment. While I’ve had some days where I find myself staring at the ceiling of my small one bedroom for hours, the majority of my confinement has not been that bad. Of course, I miss being on the road, and keeping confined has always been a huge fear of mine, but I’ve found that the lessons I learned from years of traveling the world, have sustained me through this tough time.
7 Lessons Learnt
1. Lesson: Utilise the endless hours to learn something new
2. Lesson: Don’t lose your cool, and remain calm
3. Lesson: Keep the peace and don’t go down rabbit holes
4. Lesson: Practice moving meditation
5. Lesson: Thank the universe
6. Lesson: Connect with family and friends
7. Lesson: Surround yourself with beauty and things that make you happy
Let’s Talk About The Lessons Learnt.
1. Lesson: Utilise The Endless Hours To Learn Something New
Way back in the day, after my graduation, and with limited resources, which when exhausted, I would be forced to go home, I took a six months budget trip of North India. Considering my resources, it was decided that the only way to undertake such a trip would mean a lot of long train journeys and crowded bus rides.
This, unfortunately, was before smart phones or any of its kinds had surfaced, and my bag couldn’t handle more than one book at a time (which was the "The discovery of India”). So, I bought a portable travel chess set and taught myself how to play with (very patient) strangers.
Presently I utilize my time between work to play chess online (with very patient strangers) and learning new languages. It helps the hours go by in a productive way, and I even feel like I’ve accomplished something — without noticing the clock ticking.
2. Lesson: Don’t Lose Your Cool, And Remain Calm
During this trip I managed to befriend a number of people, or shall I say co travelers, on the various sections of my travel. During one such trip through Uttar Pradesh one of my co traveler made a vey derogatory remark, which angered me, and at the spurt of the moment I lost my temper and let the chap have it.
Later on after having realized the gravity of my misdeed I tried to make up with the gentleman, but all my attempts fell flat. An aged person who was observing this, very politely advised me that,
“you must never lose face — you embarrass yourself and no one will deal with you.”
The stranger then calmly intervened, and I was able to make up for my behavior with the gentleman, and our trip concluded peacefully.
I think of this lesson every day as I see tempers fray or witness anxiety attacks on the street. I take a deep breath, remain calm, and if I can help while maintaining a six-feet distance, I do. But otherwise, I move on. Losing it will not do me, or anyone else, any good.
3. Lesson: Keep The Peace And Don’t Go Down Rabbit Holes
On one such trekking section of my trip I had befriended my co trekkers, which included some foreigners as well. This was a two week trek in the hills of the glacial stretch in the UP hills. The seven of us had to get along, or at least survive together, but as it happened, there was one person who rubbed me the wrong way.
Failing to control my basic instincts, I snapped back at this individual, saying something very rude. I was immediately put down by everyone in the group because they knew what I did not: One nasty word or pile-on can ruin a day, a week, or in this case, a trip that still had some time to go. I apologized, and over the next couple of days, I actually became friends with the person. For me, I think of this almost every day when I see what’s going on in the world on Twitter.
It’s a place where opinions rule and a “conversation” can go from normal to level the highest level of abuse and curses, in two hot seconds. Misplaced words in anger, frustration, or allowing yourself to get jacked up can come back to haunt you or take you to places you don’t need to go. So, go on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media, learn what’s going on, and then get off it. Unless it takes you to good places, you don’t need to go there. Not right now.
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4. Lesson: Practice Moving Meditation
This is another lesson learnt during this trek, and an important one to that. While on this trek the trail at certain points was grueling and difficult. At times, the hike was endless — constant trudging up a seemingly never-ending mountain, just putting one foot in front of the other, hoping not to fall over.
To get through it, I started what I call moving meditation chanting mantras that resulted in pacifying the mind and took away ones attention from the grueling trail, and walking to the beat of my breath. At the end of the day, sitting in front of a bonfire, I felt cleansed. I think of this trip a lot, especially now in self-quarantine. I take long walks at odd hours to avoid crowds, practicing moving meditation, and it keeps my mind clear and spirits lifted.
5. Lesson: Thank The Universe
One evening, while sitting in front of the bonfire, I saw a local, well educated, lady, a co trekker who just radiated joy. She was such a lovely human, so kind, that I couldn’t resist myself from seeking from her the reason how she kept so positive. Her answer to this was - A gratitude journal. I was quite taken aback hearing this but all the same, I too started maintaining one.
Every morning, I wrote a full-page detailing what I was thankful for, and every night, I jot down things I would’ve liked to manifest in my life. While everything I tried to manifest may not have materialized (yet!), I find that focusing on things I am truly grateful for — even if it’s silly things — makes every day brighter and full of optimism.
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6. Lesson: Connect With Family And Friends
Later on after my return home, I was relishing the pleasant memories of my trip, when suddenly one day I lost my pet Labrador, he was my best friend for the past 15 years, mutual love and understanding had developed between the two of us, this really was a very big and a mighty blow and a tragedy in my life, after which I fell into deep despair.
Seeing my condition, my sister, who lived in Lonavala, took me along with her to help me recover and be around my family. She was right. In times like these, you need family. You need friends. Ever since then I have started keeping in regular touch with my family every day, because these relationships matter and can help one through any amount of alone time.
7. Lesson: Surround Yourself With Beauty And Things That Make You Happy
When I first started traveling, I was a serious shopaholic. I’m a gift-giver. But over the years, my small apartment has become stuffed with knickknacks from all over the country — so much so that once a year I am forced to declutter my place. But the things I keep — and now rarely buy — say so much.
One such trip to the famous art gallery of artist, Sardar Sobha Singh felt so surreal, a playful playground of art, it made me so happy. I am beyond thankful that I bought two colorful originals that bring me joy to look at every day and remind me of the world outside of Mumbai that I hope to return to sooner rather than later.
The purpose of writing this article is basically to share a thought with everyone, who reads this that every step in life has a lesson hidden in it. It is upto us to figure out the hidden message drawn on all the incidents that occur or transpire during some trip and or any other situation, in our lives, and use those lessons to help us tide over situations such as the current lockdown or any other such trying situation.