India is confusing.
Overwhelming. No big surprise. It's huge. Where do I go? Delhi? Mumbai? Kolkata? What do I want to see? Beaches? Slums? Tigers? Ashrams? If ashrams, what kind? And how long do I want to stay there? And just how worried am I that I will end up eliciting rolled local eyes as yet another pilgrim on the sacred quest to walk in the footsteps of the most holy Guru Elizabeth Gilbert?
And when I say overwhelming I mean it's so overwhelming that my overwhelm (It's a noun. I looked it up.) began before I even set foot in the country. When I was still in Kenya. Was. Am. I am still in Kenya. Nairobi. And India is overwhelming me already. How?
This is how. Yes, it's a menu. At an Indian restaurant in Nairobi. Where I have just sat down, hungry. And I'm faced with this.
To you, this may seem like a splendid dilemma. So much promised pleasure. So many perfect choices.
To me, it's I can't fucking deal. I can't do menus. Never could. Overwhelming, to overuse a word. I hear it may be an ADHD thing, dunno. My coping strategy is to choose from two options:
1. Order the first dish I lay eyes on that seems promising. Or...
2. Get the chicken sandwich.
How does this work? Simple. I take away my obligation to consider my options.
And I'm about to go to India, with a subcontinent of choices. How will I manage? Well, most likely the way I've managed since I started these walkabouts. I remove my agency. I ask my Facebook community where THEY would go. Then I do what seems fun. It may seem like the ultimate freedom, but by limiting myself to choices presented by my peeps I'm actually abdicating responsibility, submitting to a collective will. And by doing so, I run no risk of being wrong.
Generally, I'm terrified of being wrong. To be wrong is to fail. And I'm terrified of failure.
Best way not to fail?
Don't try to finish that song. Just finish the easy ones. Don't try to master that instrument. You play well enough. Don't try to break down any doors. Just wait for the world to come knocking. Which it has, which it does, which it will, but it won't be selling what I want to buy.
In not trying, I've not failed. But I've not succeeded. Not to me. And irony of ironies, cliché of clichés, that feels like the failure I've been trying to avoid. Doubtless, it doesn't look that way from the outside. Trust me.
And in sensing, this, knowing it must shift, I step back, let the axe fall, and I travel.
And I find myself navigating the trip much the same as I've been navigating my life.
I have been traveling for 17 weeks of a 29 week trip. Just about sixty percent of my trip is complete, give or take.
I have been living for 49 years of, for the average American male, 77 years. Just about 60 percent of my life is complete. Give or take.
I've seen and done amazing things in my 17 weeks and my 49 years. Immensely grateful for all of it. Having one hell of a time.
I've also seen where my abdication of responsibility has limited me. I'd like to make more informed choices.
To make informed choices, you must be informed. To know, you must allow yourself to be in a place of not knowing. And you must stop and listen. I always hated that part.
Africa was a selfie. Let India be a mirror.