I am writing to you in hopes to gain a sense of closure for myself as well as to pass on some sentiments to the next group of people who walk the same path (or a similar one) that we did. I have been home for nearly three weeks now (thanks dengue fever!) but I still find myself waking up sometimes, thinking that I’m breathing Varanasi air, before opening my eyes and remembering I am just over 7,460 miles away from India. Here are some thoughts and a film that I made to say thank you and goodbye:
For the next person who chooses to travel in the best way possible (the way we did on this trip), just know this: you won’t be able to return home unchanged. Traveling this way will change you in one way or another, the changes will probably be multifaceted and complex and sometimes seem to come all at once, sometimes they will feel slow and tiring. You can’t travel thinking you’ll return home to the same life you led before– something within you will have to shift. A perspective, an opinion, the depth of your knowledge, your aspirations, the way you fall asleep at night– something will change whether you want it to or not. The change will be for the better though. You will meet people who inspire you and trigger a feeling in your heart that you may not have felt before. You will get frustrated and sad, angry at everything that seems unfair– for you sometimes… but mostly for your neighbors and the people you get to learn so much from who work so hard, yet have a myriad of systems and institutions working against them. But there will also be times when you feel like you are on top of the tallest mountain in the world, and everything below you is just magnificence. You’ll feel powerful and hopeful and extreme in all senses of the word.
At some point you will come back to neutral, and while not on either end of the spectrum, you will be somewhere in the middle. Having memories that are both good and bad, that undoubtedly change you and the way that you live and navigate this world of extremes. These experiences will continue to affect you and continue to make changes in your heart each and every day. Hold your memories close to you, keep them in your heart and listen to your voices. These experiences are the most valuable, and what you do with them is the only thing that is important after you leave.
Here is a link to a short video remembering some of the best moments I hold: https://vimeo.com/245954272
Thanks for everything,