If anyone wants to see the worst side of me—frazzled insomniac, control freak, and demanding reassurance at every step—just put the onus of organizing a trip on my shoulders.
No, I am not into traveling to distant and near places… give me armchair travel, give me good friends and siblings who post their wonderful pictures and narrative for my viewing pleasure, give me a good travel magazine to devour and digest.
And I want to write and share my journeys here?! Oxford Dictionary explains.. noun an act of travelling from one place to another, especially when they are far apart.. the verb, to travel, especially a long distance.
Yes, these are accounts of journeys undertaken by choice, or as a response to circumstances. A travelogue of a life being lived with challenges, change, coincidences, cheer and a cupboard full of skeletons and memories. These accounts are in no chronological or planned order. They have been deeply tinted by feelings and emotions— flooding out facts and figures at places.
Come, join me on these journeys… and if you can use anything to make your journey easier, that would be the icing on the cake.
For starters, there is this current journey I have embarked on… the journey of down-sizing, living in a small town, attempting to change vocations, and choosing to be happy. I get a lot of quizzical looks and the same question, “You don’t practice anymore? Why? Once a doctor, always a doctor, no?! Why knitting? And why here?”
As I write, I look up to see dawn breaking outside. Framed perfectly by the window pane, there is a golden sliver of moon with a diamond dot of a star nearby. Nothing else mars the beauty of the glowing grey sky with shades of blue and orange creeping in from the east. It’s sights like these which make doubts vanish and self assurance emerges, like daybreak at the window.
Life choices come layered like a club sandwich. There are the delectable bits—in down-sizing I would get away from the mad city, there would be time to pursue my passion (knitting), fresh air and bird-song would be mine for the asking. The mustard seasoning of self-doubt; the pepper grains of realizing that there is just one life to live one’s dreams or follow the crowd; the sauces of passion and adventure and the salt of support from family and friends. The bread, of course, is getting the finances in order and making the choice to live more with much less.
Six years ago, when the girls were studying hard for their Masters degrees and life was chugging along happily at Delhi, it struck me that the girls would soon be independent adults and child-supporting responsibilities would come to an end. A new bend on the road of life was coming up and how was I going to take it?
I could choose to continue being a Project Director at the Church, continue to earn well, mentor my team, save up funds for retirement, surgeries, the girls’ emergencies, a world trip and get some more things, including a nice dinner table. But then came the thought…… this is a chance to move into another groove. I was young enough to begin afresh, old enough to have laid most desires to rest (take that one with a lot of salt), mature enough to have clarity on the challenges ahead, immature enough to believe that good luck will see me through, pessimistic enough to know that it would not be easy (in spite of planning and plotting), and optimistic enough to believe that things would fall into place once I commit and take the first step.
The first step for me has always been about putting my “support net” in place. Two positive and strong daughters encourage me steadfastly, even when my choices result in their lives getting disrupted. My immediate family will move Heaven and Earth, if required. They keep their doubts and reservations under cover, listen carefully to my plans and always offer support. Earlier times have seen the men in my life (Dad and brother) tearing their hair out while I would take one assuredly mad decision after another. Three decades of watching those decisions leading to excellent outcomes has given them the strength to leave critical comments in their minds.. My sister reminds me of past successes to bolster my courage and the extended family joins in too.
The next step –going out and getting a thick, hard-bound notebook . I make lists and plans in my notebook and work backwards from the planned date of taking the final step. It helps to keep the momentum going, and it is a good record of the ups and downs of the journey.
Many notebooks have been bought, plans made , lists finalized and then, the notebooks have been relegated to the bottom shelf. The point here, is that all journeys begin in our mind or heart or imagination. When the journey begins, we have no idea of the duration or the destination. It could be a dream which dies at daybreak, an idea which remains idle for decades, an energetic spurt which pushes us up the ladder of success, or a life change which never ceases to amaze. Man proposes, God disposes—that’s one viewpoint. Enjoy the journey, don’t think about the destination—another viewpoint. My personal favorite?—It’s all about choice.