The most important thing in life. True love. Without it, all is nothing. And when you find it, you have to let love go so that it can unfold. Just like when a journey takes you to a perfect place and then asks you to move on. That is the hardest part. The Zen. This impulse to reconfigure, this impulse to let go. It keeps the world churning, connects us to the world, to people, to places, to life.
And isn’t it strange that it is the things that make our life richer that make us feel poorer. Or is it simply that our hearts grow during the blues, that it churns with all those emotions and builds new spaces for all those places, all those people we met. Maybe these blues are but the process of turning moments into memories for those spaces that feel empty, yet aren’t.
When the time arrives, I will write about how Worlds Apart: 2 Friends, 2 Journeys, and 10 Life Lessons – A True Story by Smitha Murthy, and Dorothee Lang found me. For now, I am glad that it did.
Smitha Murthy was teaching English in China, when she stumbled upon Dorothee Lang’s articles about her recent trip to India. Murthy was longing for home (Bangalore, India) then. She was naturally pleased to read lovely articles about her homeland. She wrote to Lang about how she enjoyed reading her travelogue, and the inspiring travellers began exchanging e-mails, letters, poems, and brilliant, brilliant notes about their extraordinary journeys.
After I finished the book, I went back to my desk to read my clients’s e-mails, but I couldn’t focus. I was thinking of Murthy, and Lang. I couldn’t bring myself back from Murthy’s China, and all the places that Lang visited. Along with them, I seemed to have left a piece of my heart in all those places.
When Murthy returned to India from China, Lang wrote to her, “I think it (the transit back into one’s home) is one of the most difficult parts of a journey: the step back into home from another place. Or maybe even more: from another side of self. While the ones back home (and even oneself) think you are back, it’s a slightly other you who returns, one that doesn’t exactly fit the carved shape of the everyday that you left behind when packing your bags.”
I realised that I was a different me, after I read the book. The dormant, unenthusiastic traveller in me woke up, and reminded that I would miss myriad things in life if I fail to backpack.
Every exchange between Murthy, and Lang, brims with their bottomless love for unknown lands, and proves their keen understanding of life. One must not read the book to know about the places that the duo visited. The sheer beauty lies in the prism through which they saw those intimidating cities, unassuming villages, popular tourist attractions, and above all… their own lives.
Their correspondence carried 10 lessons. 10 beautiful, subtle life lessons. Some were stunningly Zennish. Like ‘Just Be’. Some were motivating. Like ‘Fight Alone’, and ‘Beautiful Humility’. The lessons appeared more fitting, and powerful because they took shape, when Murthy, and Lang visited places that humbled them, caused them pain, gifted unforgettable memories, and when they encountered trying times. The lessons are universal because the emotions that created them are universal.
Now, I look forward with more enthusiasm to visiting the US; I will not be surprised if I discover a new me in that foreign land, or I hope that I will.