In writing this post I can sit down and try to make sense of the changes happening to us because we are traveling and because in a way we are vagabonds. In the past year we have covered over 80,000 km (twice the circumference of our globe) but mostly we’ve been traveling up and down Asia. Our goal is to slowly make our way to South America next. We’ve averaged about a month in each country so we can get a good feel of each culture. India (http://tibetannomads.com/2014/02/28/we-are-now-a-digital-mobile-family-or-a-digital-tibetan-nomadic-family/) was more a time for visiting family. We travel slow because we have children with us. The experience has been amazing, our senses are completely engaged because everything is new and strange. We have enjoyed some amazing views, I favor the moments where we are just by ourselves and where we were able to relax and soak it in. We have been able to meet childhood friends and beautiful people all around, the brief companionships are heart warming. We are eating some delicious and interesting foods, I have gained weight which is not good. We have had some travel related challenges (items lost, I got held at gunpoint once, rip currents, accidents, missing flights, the shits and so on) but it has mostly been a smooth and very fulfilling ride. We don’t use guide books, we mostly find our destinations from the locals or we just venture out and enjoy the surprises. Sometimes we visit tourist traps but mostly we try to experience local life. We find the human spirit is mostly kind and caring everywhere we go, our daily encounters with people is a reminder to us of the nature within us all to seek happiness and to find meaning in what we do. We travel light, on budget and our camera is an iPhone.
Many people think of us as being brave and such but we are traveling comfortably. The internet makes everything easy. We try to live like locals as much as we can and it gives us satisfaction. The risk that we took in selling all is actually not a risk at all. It depends on how you look at it. The world may seem hostile if you view it from the living room. People fear poverty and in turn they fear humanity. When you travel you find that most fellow humans are genuinely welcoming and peaceful.
True risk and adventure in travel come from experiences like my parent’s generation when they left Tibet for India during a highly tense situation. They didn’t understand language or culture, many of them suffered great poverty not knowing how they were going to feed themselves or get shelter. They were in the most vulnerable circumstances imaginable and they faced tremendous hardships before they were able to find a peaceful set up later in life. They found great generosity by the governments of India and Nepal. Their priorities were about achieving some sort of happy life. I grew up mostly spoiled by the love from my parents and uncles and aunts. I had it easy. These type of stories are rarely told.
For me this journey is all about increasing awareness. We have less attachments. Travel in a way gives us an astronauts view of the world even though we’re at street level. Mindfulness and awareness kills any form of judgement and while you truly gain appreciation for the people and our planet, you also get a first hand experience in dysfunctionality at every level of society. We humans are in some ways regressing into a primitive stage of consciousness, GDP keeps increasing but GNH is stagnant or getting worse. Huge disparities in society and the harm to our planet is running at a rampant pace. Many people just don’t appear to have found happiness. There is a mechanical nature to society everywhere. Why are we collectively under utilizing our minds on issues where human well-being matters? We have evolved in such a way that we find meaning in our lives by increasing our capacity to buy more crap.
Travel is incrementally giving us a different understanding of what it is to live. I agree with whoever said that there is no meaning in life but to just live. We are gaining a better sense of freedom at an personal level. Tibet was a land that historically dedicated its genius to a better understanding of happiness and to conquer suffering. The Chinese claim that material progress is the answer to ending the Tibetan people’s troubles from primitivism. They could have realized the truth from the very Tibetans they imprisoned. There are many Tibetans who spent decades in prison in Tibet and experienced great physical hardship through torture and torment. Yet many of them came out unscathed. They came out as truly happy humans like nothing had happened to them. Why is it so? No human can fake that, it has to be genuine. I believe the answer is that these Tibetans were able to do so because they were fully aware of who they were at their core and they experienced freedom in its truest form. Suffering was deflected by their inner confidence. Which truly is the primitive society? The ones that were in harmony with nature and the inner workings of our consciousness? Or the ones possessing hate and weapons and are racing towards a mad future of more things to buy?
The core space in which our consciousness exists is the reason we are all the same. How we allow thoughts, beliefs and emotions to enter this space is why we are all so different and that is what creates our many boundaries. These boundaries when you look at it on a large-scale are reasons we have different gods, different hierarchies in society and so much suffering. I used to feel a stranger everywhere I lived like I didn’t belong because of my ethnicity. Now I feel a commonality with all just as the Dalai Lama teaches us by his example when he travels around the world.
We are educating our children. I believe one of the main errors in educational systems is not allowing students to doubt freely. I did my schooling in India and college in the US. I benefited greatly from my education but it also limited me in many ways. Learning must come naturally out of innate curiosity, not by the forced hand of a regimented program.
It is a challenge to come up with a way to set up a foundation of freedom in my children’s education, it is our own experiment. We are noticing that they are developing their own interest in certain areas and creative expressions are forming. We facilitate this freedom with love and support and space. We are trying to find a balance between what they need to understand world knowledge for their future, there are some great online resources to help(Khan Academy) but also we want to allow them to find their creative side. World travel obviously helps in giving them exposure to all its complexities.
There is no right and wrong in how we live, we just go by the instinct to find a happy balance. We may stop or continue. It doesn’t matter, we just live by our terms. We are free. This is where I am after a year of travel. The journey continues.