Backpacking becomes fun when outer exploration triggers inner exploration! It becomes meditative when the journey is embraced more than visiting touristic places, which is why I explore the roads less traveled, as they lead to many new discoveries, both inner and outer.
One such experience changed my outlook toward life. Being a social person, I value and enjoy community living, as it brings variety and teaches us about people, unsaid acts of kindness, sharing and caring for one another, and the feeling of family, irrespective of what backgrounds we come from. During these times, we relate to one another with gentle hearts that wants to offer service or just be there to create a safe space for everyone who walks in.
A friend from the ServiceSpace community shared something so profound and relatable when he posed a question: How can we unlock multiple forms of wealth? One type that touched my heart was community! We think of contributors as individuals, but actually one plus one is greater than two because the plus sign has value. How we relate and connect to each other can change the entire outcome. If you look at a piece of graphite and a piece of diamond, they’re both made of carbon atoms. The difference is in how they’re connected to each other.
My spiritual guide often speaks about how our vision should be “one eye pointing within and the other eye pointing outside.” Physically it sounds funny, but it has a very beautiful meaning. Consciously, we can introspect on the learnings that we receive, by exploring the changes that occur within as a result of daily life.
This is exactly how I felt when I was backpacking for four months at Kulga Village in Himachal Pradesh, between December 2020 and March 2021. I learned that help comes in various forms, especially when you least expect it!
I was exploring a place beyond Manikaran, just after Kasol and before Tosh in Parvati Valley. I was lost midway, it was getting dark, and there were no means of transport, so I had no clue where I would end up. I usually traveled with hostel mates, but this was something I wanted to explore by myself. I paused to think what I could do next when suddenly, from far off, I saw a family waving at me. With a sigh of relief, I walked toward them and they asked me if I have eaten anything. According to them, I seem to be lost! I ate the food at their small shop and asked them how much I should pay, but they refused and said, “Maybe this meal belonged to you, daughter.”
I was touched, but insisted on paying, so they said it would be helpful if I could teach their son the 9 times table. I smiled and asked if they could help me find a guest house or hostel to spend the night, but they mentioned that there was nothing around. Instead, they invited me to stay in their house! I had no other choice but to accept, as I didn’t know where else to stay. So, we started walking, and on the way I taught their son (I am good at math so thankfully could be of some help here.)
We climbed a mountain and reached their place after two hours! It was a
very small room and they had just two mattresses with three people
sharing. I had my sleeping bag but still they offered me one mattress
saying that they would share the other one. I was touched.
They said, “You are our guest tonight. Just this afternoon we were thinking of our daughter (who is no more) and wanted to feed a few more daughters who might cross our path. God heard our call, as you reach us. It fulfilled our wish.”
I asked them how they could sleep as it was -1 degree outside.
They mentioned that it was okay, “because you have come to us as a gift. It’s like letting our daughter sleep comfortably one last time on her mattress. That would give us more peace than anything else!” They refused to use my sleeping bag, saying, “It is Covid time, and you shouldn’t share the sleeping bag with anyone. Rest assured, we haven’t used this mattress and just keep it as is, but now after you, we will use it.”
I was in tears that night. So much love and so much care. These were definitely angels in human form!
The next morning, I prepared Marathi poha for them. We had a meal together and they bid me goodbye saying, “Beta, shine through your goodness and always help people who cross your way. You will never know what contentment and joy you will receive in return, as we are feeling this morning. We experienced having our daughter beside us, as this is how she may have been ten years from now.”
That entire day I was in some different world. The incident shook me from within and reminded me of what my spiritual teacher says: “Even when a flower is hidden in crevices between stones, the honeybee will find where it is blooming.” How can we make our hearts like the beautiful flowers of this family?