The world is bigger than we could ever possibly imagine, and it’s scary to think we will never even scratch the surface in this lifetime. Even if we do travel to the same places, we see the world through different eyes, creating a unique experience. As I dive head first into travel, I am inspired by each of your adventures and am starting Sonderlust Secrets as a series showcasing this. Interested in being featured?“…To follow another’s path is dangerous.” —The Bhagavad Gita, 3.35
When I was a young twenty-something, I had a familiar story to tell. Like many new grads, I didn’t really know what to do with myself when I finished university. It was my first time experiencing life without any rigid structures, and I was completely unprepared for it. I had studied Professional Writing, but I had difficulty translating a lot of the skills I learned in the classroom into real life. I didn’t know where to begin.
Inspired by my favourite quote in the philosophical guidebook The Bhagavad Gita, I decided to spend some time getting to know myself. I took a solo trip via bus down the east coast of the United States. I brought a copy of the Gita with me and an empty notebook, and I read the book along the way as I journalled and reflected on the kind of person that I wanted to be. For the first time ever, I had a lot of time to myself to think about these kinds of things. I did not have any particular sites I wanted to see; I just wanted to observe everything that I could, for as little money as possible. I began in New York City, a place I had only before explored in books and movies. At the time, I romanticized NYC a lot in my head. I even considered making it the only stop, but I was glad I didn’t because I actually ended up taking a much longer and more fulfilling trip than I originally anticipated. I learned American history in Washington, fell in love with the Deep South, and relaxed in a South Beach hostel before I returned home.
As a young girl, I never travelled much, so I convinced myself that travel for travel’s sake was frivolous. I was wrong. The truth is, when you travel for travel’s sake, you open yourself up to new experiences and learn more about who you are. You gain confidence when you submerge yourself in unfamiliar territory and unconventional social situations. You’re forced to live your life in the moment, which is something that we rarely do in our day-to-day lives.Taking time to step away from it all helped me to gain clarity. When I looked at medieval paintings at the Smithsonian, created by people who have long since passed away while their work has endured and continued to inspire others, I thought about how fleeting yet meaningful that life really is. As Krishna says in The Bhagavad Gita (2.13), “As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.”When I sat with my journal on a bench by the courthouse of a quaint Southern town, I thought about how good it felt to write. I realized that writing was something I wanted to spend my life pursuing—not in a traditional nine-to-five way, but in a way that would allow me to use my voice to stand up for the voiceless. I knew that Krishna would always support me if I used the position He has given me to raise awareness of the rights of animals, who are His other children, and to speak about vegetarianism.Finally, it was at my final destination in the party city of Miami, notorious for its shallowness, that I was able to form the most meaningful, albeit temporary, friendships with other women. We connected even though we had little in common. At the end of the day, we’re all individual souls with our own paths to follow in this world. Everybody’s journey is different.When you allow yourself to take in the beauty of God’s creation around you, to bask in the vastness of the ocean and realize how small you truly are, all of the little things that caused so much aggravation in another time and place suddenly seem unimportant. I realized that I didn’t have to know all the answers, because God did and He was the one in charge of my destiny.
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” —The Bhagavad Gita, 18.66 I will always remember the time I spent reflecting and exploring along the east coast of the United States because it set the course for the rest of my life—but I still don’t have it all figured out. I have a lifetime of learning (and writing!) ahead of me, but I have no need to rush or worry because someone else is guiding me. Some may think that what I’ve written sounds frightening, but realizing that we’re not the ones pulling the ropes isn’t a scary thing at all—surrendering the results of your actions and appreciating what the world has to offer is a beautiful thing. It becomes all the more obvious when we travel how little control we really have, but it’s a lesson worth remembering, whether at home or abroad.
Samita Sarkar is a full-time writer, editor, and animal rights advocate living in Canada. You can read more about my experiences in my travelogue, I Am the Ocean, available on Amazon and follow along on twitter!