I don’t know what it is about this time of year: the end of summer and start of cooler weather and shorter days, but for the past few years I’ve found it to be a time that I spend more time in my head. For the past week I’ve been thinking a lot about an experience that greatly impacted my life: traveling in Thailand. I was there for only a month 3 years ago, but my trip to Thailand changed my life. I’m not the first person to have had a transformational experience while traveling over seas. But it didn’t need to be Thailand (although food-wise, Thailand itself was important).
Traveling with no schedule, with no fixed wish list (my friend and I had a very few things that we “needed to see” on our trip), and being open to whatever experiences and opportunities came along allowed me to live in the moment. Being fully present was amazing. During this incredible week I took part in a 2-day silent introduction to meditation and Buddhism class. One of the most powerful activities involved in this was just that: being present in the moment.
With this time that I didn’t owe to anyone else, didn’t have work to do, errands to run, or any other commitments, I had time to think. I asked a lot of questions that I hadn’t taken the time to explore before. What am I passionate about? What brings joy to my life on a regular basis? What am I doing for adventure? Are my priorities where I want them to be? What do I need to let go of from the past that is weighing me down? Am I happy with where I put my time and energy? What am I doing to express my creative self? The list went on and on.
My week in Chiang Mai (in northern Thailand) allowed me to think about where I was in life, and where I want to be. I could see that I wasn’t creating a passionate or exciting existence for myself in my life back home. I was doing “what I was supposed to be doing”: I had a good career, I was making a difference to the people around me, I was in great shape- by most accounts I was “winning” at life. But it didn’t feel like it.
So what? That’s life isn’t it? F that!
My trip to Thailand came at a time when I definitely hadn’t been living life to it’s fullest. It was the first time that I had taken the time to really get away since starting my career, and was just kind of lost in the busyness that we call life. I very quickly met a guy and girl my age in Chiang Mai, who I immediately felt very comfortable with. The week that we spent together was incredibly entertaining, and I giggled (my “manly-giggle”) almost the entire time. We had “competitions” at each meal to see who would end up ordering the best smoothie (oh how I miss those fresh Thai smoothies! -Not to mention the prices).
My old perma-smile had returned. This person in Thailand… it’d been a long time since I had seen this version of me. So happy and care-free. What happened to this guy? Where had he been for so many years? This is the person I owe to myself. This is the person I owe to the world.
I resolved that all decisions from here-on-out needed to get me closer to being this version of me. When I came home I changed jobs. I became closer to friends. I realized that food is my creative passion. I worked out. I kept meditating. I questioned what I wanted from life. And I questioned my priorities.
I continue to move strive to live in the moment, to appreciate experiences and opportunities that come my way. I am embracing my creative energy, my inquisitive nature, and my new-found excitement for the incredible potential of life. I wear my Ganesh necklace everyday as a visual reminder (especially helpful on days when I’m just not as grounded as I’d like to be) of the lessons I learned, the person I want to be, and how Thailand changed my life.
Nicole Chiang says
Raj, I love this post you have written and can totally resonate with your words. Way to strive to live your most authentic self – I believe this is how one truly wins the game of life! x
Thanks Buddy! I knew you’d get this! Hoping that someday I’ll travel as much as you do.
Beautiful post Raj, this is an excellent reminder that life is one great journey, always strive to grow and learn from what life brings our way.
You nailed it. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that it’s not just the ongoing routine of laundry, changing tires and paying the bills.
The Urban Gypsy says
Love how travel brought you back to life! Your zest for life is infectious and I’m sure inspiring to so many! You rock Raj!
Thanks Heather! Yeah, travel, so magical.