The Anxiety of Pursuing Dreams — Day 33
It took me a while to get here. In front of the computer, ready to write, gazing at a blank screen. I had told myself before this trip began that I would share our adventures with everyone on a regular basis, but to be honest, it’s been hard to get myself in front of my computer.
For the last four years, my jobs depended on this little inanimate device; before that, my entire college career could be condensed into a couple dozen Microsoft Word documents. Living in San Francisco, at the epicenter of innovation and technology, my laptop became an extension of myself — a tool for self-validation rather than creation.
Most days, I’d be at my desk before 8 a.m. I’d often stay up late, staring at my screen, either with work or Netflix. I was superb at multitasking — working or browsing the internet while watching television with roommates. I would even bring my laptop to eat lunch in the kitchen with coworkers (it’s a real lunch break as long as you’re not sitting at your desk, right?) I could spend 18 hours a day on my laptop, easy.
So when we began traveling, every time my mind wanted to write, my heart had a different idea. It felt like work to sit in front of a computer. So instead, I bought a journal.
Beyond work though, this laptop signifies an amazing ability to travel across timezones and cultures, to translate thousands of languages, and to transcend the future and the past. But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to be present — in Morocco, Nepal, India, wherever I am — without clicking back to the life I once knew.
Don’t get me wrong; I love that life. There are many things that I miss (read: hot showers), but right now, it’s time for me to savor something new, and I don’t want to miss a second of it.
While it’s been some 30 days that Jade and I have been on the road, the first two weeks of our trip were spent in the comfort of friends, family, and familiarity. It’s just the beginning of our backpacking trip — our big adventure. Two weeks of eye-opening, uncomfortable, beautiful, scary, and wondrous travel.
In India, my goal was to get below the surface and really get to know the people, their culture and their philosophy on life. India is sublime — both fascinating and daunting — but the anxiety of the country is difficult to overcome. The chaotic streets are covered in trash, bustling with honking tuk-tuks, full of well-dressed men looking at you as their next scam. After the first day, that goal seemed near impossible.
However, day by day, we began to chip away at the surface and discover the true beauty of the country. In the small moments, the people, the unexpected places, we found an intimacy with India.
Like with Anu, a friend of a friend of a friend who had little incentive to show us around, but who took us under her wing and led us through a Delhi we would have never seen. Together, we explored the city’s most prized spiritual landmarks and talked for hours about deeply personal and authentic topics.
Or with the nondescript kebab shop on a busy highway in Jaipur. After eating the tastiest tandoori chicken, we trudged along that hectic street to get there over and over again.
Or with our homestay in Agra, where Jade spent most of the time recovering from a stomach bug. The entire family was a pure joy to be around. Sweet and kind, Naghma shared ayurvedic tips and medicine to help soothe Jade’s pain, friendly Mukul drove us around the city in his tuk-tuk, and the older man (I never got his name) introduced me to a street dog and her six newborn puppies he was taking care of from afar.
All of this to say, there’s a lot more to see outside of this 13-inch screen.