Sunday, November 22, 2015

My India Bookshelf, Part 1

My high school friend Megan and I finally caught up with one another recently. At the end of the conversation, she said "Hey! I still want to hear about India!" I was shocked that I hadn't told her anything about it (it happened in July, after all!) and she had seen only a handful of pictures on Facebook. I thought to myself, "I should really do something about that" but quickly remembered how large and heavy a task it seemed and neglected it.

A couple days later, one of the students I traveled with to India posted pictures of our trip. I clicked through them, feeling reminiscent and happy and sad all mixed into one.  I was glad she had chosen to share her trip in some public way, but dismissed it as a way to share my trip. 

The idea of sharing my experience this summer in India has been something so large in my heart and my head that I've failed to share it at all. In the midst of work and personal commitments, I've felt I don't have the time to fully unpack everything I saw and did. To do so would be an emotional task that requires time and mental and emotional energy. 

But, I woke up from a dream this morning in which I was cruising down the Amazon River on a boat with a bunch of young adults and people who don't speak English. This dream closely resembled the events of my friends Suzy and Michael and their team who traveled to Manuas, Brazil with Project Timothy this summer. I could take this dream as confirmation that I should sell all my possessions and become a vagabond. Or I could take it as confirmation to stop privatizing my trip, which is never what a Project Timothy trip, or any life experience, I believe, is supposed to be. It was a deeply communal experience; the only way I can honor it is to invite others into that experience. 

Our group arriving in Bangalore.
JP, Ashley, me, Jerry, Garrett, Cy, Marissa, Kora, and Maggie.

The next couple of posts will serve as a feeble attempt to put into words something that has planted itself so firmly in my heart. 

I'll begin by explaining the name for these posts.

My friend JP, who we met in India, is an amazing individual with wealths of wisdom and experience leading trips like the one I took. He was great at helping our group process and ask questions and directing us to see things in a certain light.  And he tells the most engaging, humorous stories of anybody I've met. He and I got the chance to have some awesome conversations along the way--in the back of a van straight from the 70's, in a train station in what seemed the middle of the night.
My friend JP. He's as cool as he looks. 

In one of these conversations I told him about just how incomprehensible this trip seemed, and how I had no idea how I could do it justice when I returned home. He gave me the analogy of a book shelf and told me to imagine India as this whole big bookshelf in my room (my heart, really). Every experience, big or small, is a book on that bookshelf. This is the part I love: he told me that somedays, I'll pull down one of those books and go through it (metaphorically, of course).  They'll become old favorites. Some days I'll pull down new books, ones I never knew existed. And some of those books, I'll never get around to. Some of those experiences, I will never get around to processing. 

This is a hard concept for me. I'm fairly type-A. I like things to make sense, I like resolution, and I like things with a clear beginning and end. I only keep books on my bookshelf that I have read at least once. I finish nearly every book I begin.  To not have resolution of this trip is a bit too open-ended for my liking. BUT it has become one of the best analogies I have for life now, with all it's uncertainties and questions and experiences.  India is just one of many bookshelves in my heart; but it is a large, full one. Join me as I reflect on my trip? I'll try to use less words than this time. 

In the meantime, some photos, because that's what everybody likes:

Our group in the Doha airport. Who doesn't love a giant teddy bear sculpture?

Proof that I actually went. View from the (near the) top of a Jain temple.
The view was incredible and this picture doesn't do it justice.

Obligatory food pic. We ate dosas for breakfast. They were so, so good. If
you know somebody from southern India, ask them to make these for you.

Obligatory exotic animal pic. Although, this is pretty awesome.