Coming Home and Reflections

What has made a lasting impression on me from this journey? What will I do now? How will this affect my future?
Ritchie Portrait Goa

“The great secret of true success, of true happiness is this: the man or woman who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish person is the most successful.” 

Swami Vivekananda
Summary of my sojourn in Asia

The Journey:

A journey always begins with a single step. Whether that be an intention, a conversation with a friend or doing research at the local library, these things can lead you to suddenly standing in a place that previously you could only experience it as someone else’s premise. I remember with great detail when I was two days into the Manaslu circuit trek where both myself, my guide and porter were walking up this stupendous valley with huge waterfalls cascading down the sides of the mountains. There was not a cloud in the sky and we were hiking in shorts and T-shirts. The Valley was so lush, full of greenery and flowers. We walked over hanging bridges decorated with Tibetan prayer fags that swayed to and fro in the wind with drops of a few hundred meters into a raging river below. Eagles flew overhead. Kids greeted us with their palms together as they bowed and said Namaste.

Gap on Manuslu circuit trek
Gap on Manuslu circuit trek

I can feel this moment now as I sit and write and it still soothes my heart.

Then I have my moments of deep contemplation as I sat by Mother Ganga. Watching her waters flow past with so many differing currents and whirl pools that your eyes would pick up on. Often I would have a stray dog on my lap, which added to the mood in a positive way.

Evening light on the Ganga
Evening light setting on the Ganga with Ashram in the background

I also remember taking the train from Agra to Varanasi and my fellow passengers bought me breakfast as we sat and talked about our lives with the rural landscapes flashing past us from the window in our carriage.

The Lessons:

All these experiences reinforce a sense of solidarity with my fellow man, myself and the world right there in front of me. Often, Yoga describes both the philosophy behind looking beyond your own self perception and connections to the oneness of what is there in front of you. I had many such moments on this trip and it confirmed for me the art of being, as opposed to doing.

There were also times when I became overwhelmed by the poverty that I saw. Then I would feel guilty for my own sense of privilege and standards, which didn’t seem relevant in light of the desperation that I was witnessing before me. Kids of six, seven and eight breaking rocks by the side of an extremely dusty road. Their lungs being compromised. Their backs ruined. I would drive past them on my way to later be walking on a path where I would literally be looking down on them. They would never get the opportunity of education. Probably never see the magnificent vista’s that I got to see that was only “just up the road” from where they were doing their back breaking work.

Some days, I would lock myself away from having to be confronted by similar sights. When I felt physically exhausted, I felt more venerable to the hardships of my fellow humans when I compared them again to my freedoms. But then, when my equilibrium came back, I would be able to observe that they, the people to whom I perceived as suffering, also carried with them grace in the face of adversity. They would meet my interactions with their own where I would not feel a sense of me and them, but see the Union that we were all sharing this planet together and it was all good, despite the inequality of our backgrounds.

Coming Home:

My last month in India was both wonderful but it was also mixed with the feeling that I needed to come home and rest my body. My bout with “Dehli Belly” had left it’s mark and I could still feel its effects on me. I sat in a restaurant in Dehli and booked my ticket home despite being offered a wonderful opportunity to work in Goa teaching kids film. I had also been invited to be part of an Ayahuasca group that really appealed to me. But the call of home was stronger, and after the experience of trekking up in the Indian Himalaya had finished, I found myself in the throngs of the many travelers at Dehli International Airport. I felt a sense of gratitude and relief as the plane began to take off. The start of a new chapter in my life was about to begin.

Dad picking me up at Christchurch Airport

But then I arrived home and fell immediately sick. I had fever and shivered. My throat swelled up and suddenly I was finding it difficult to injest both fluids and food. Tests showed that I had picked up streptococcus in my respiratory tract as well as parasites in my digestive tract. I needed rest.

Instead of me running around and probably looking and reacting to my external world, I am now in a state of mild introspection. I have read many books. The Kybalion – an ancient book on the occult. Silence by Vietnamese Monk Thich That Hahn. The Science of Yogi Breathing, just to name a few.

I have also had conversations with my mother and father. We have talked about my brother’s passing and the effects of what this had on each of us. With difficulty, I have accepted my Mother’s words of advice about my health. With that, we have had a break through in our communication and have enjoyed getting to know each other again. I now can see past our roles as Mother and Son, and just see us as two beings who are communicating on a plane where we are two souls beyond the conformities of mother/son, you/me. We just engage and pass knowledge and experience through each other.

The “Old Girl” catching up on the woes of the World.

My father has slowed down from the workaholic that I remember him previously. He has driven me to the Doctor’s sitting in the waiting rooms and refusing me to pay for my medical costs. He has brought me breakfast in bed and gone out at night and bought me supplies when I have had cravings in the night. He does it with a stoic silence which again confirms the vision of giving selflessly.

It will take time before I get back on my feet again. I will do my best to do the breathing techniques I have learnt during my time in India. I realize how patience is needed. My body has taken a battering. I am currently 56 kilograms and my blood test results have shown deficiencies in many areas. But my mind is strong and my intentions and dreams, though tested of late, are focused on a future of servitude. Slowly, I will be reacquainted with other family as well as connect to the Maori culture and the earth, sea and sky that I am now a part of in this part of the Southern Hemisphere.

View from my parents balcony

I feel blessed. Thankful for the lessons learned and the life that is about to unfold here. It is my wish to honor my forefathers and leave behind a legacy that will serve for the betterment of the community. I wish you dear reader, the very best with you own hopes, dreams and aspirations.

May we one day meet again in this crazy Game called Life!

Reunited with my fantastic niece and nephew Miriama and Tamati.
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Katy Appleton


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