I have had several surprises since leaving my adventure-filled vacation in Nepal. A few surprises happened immediately upon leaving, others took weeks and months.
Surprise 1. The sun knows best.
I was surprised to find out how much I enjoy rising before the sun and setting not long after the sun. i sleep better and more soundly when I follow the sun’s lead (most days).
Surprise 2. How little I need.
Shelter, food, water, clothing, heat and electricity — the basics. It makes me wonder about the messages trying to persuade me to buy or do something because I need it. Not really the truth though. Do I need more clothes? More accessories? More decorations, more tech, more pretty shiny things? Nope.
Surprise 3. I enjoy smelling natural and earthy.
I liked trekking and not showering, not shaving, not washing my hair and not laundering my clothes. I felt powerful, primitive and rebellious. It was so contrary to the North American ideal of cleanliness using a gazillion hygiene products to not smell, to not smell each other. I like knowing how I actually smell.
Surprise 4. How much stuff I have AND how hard it is for me to part with *my* stuff.
The trek leaders offered us the opportunity to donate clothing at the end and it was a struggle for me. I rationalized that I would need the items when I travelled on or would continue to wear them when I returned home. Which I did and do. And I could have given stuff away and been fine. I had an opportunity to let go, to share and be generous. I realize it is not easy to detach from “It’s mine” and “I still need this”.
Surprise 5. The power of sticking to a daily plan.
The trek leaders kept our group on a firm schedule which kept me focused, striving and challenged. Without it I probably would have stayed an extra day to rest my sick, puking stomach and then got caught in the snowy mess ahead preventing me from climbing higher and reaching base camp. Sticking to a plan made the difference between getting “there” and not.
Surprise 6. The intensity of North American consumerism and consumption.
It was a shocking surprise to return to North American culture and values and be met with December holiday commercialism, the superficiality of celebrity culture, retail culture, and fitness culture. I felt bombarded by the amount that was promoted, marketed and sold to me, especially with the focus on “you you you” and “me, me, me” rather than “we we we” or “us us us”.
Surprise 7. Feeling spiritually full.
I noticed how it felt to shift from feeling spiritually full to empty. I experienced having my spirit feel sumptuously full and fulfilled that my body needed little food to energize itself. I felt energized by what I was experiencing, seeing and doing. In contrast, I noticed the spiritual emptiness to urban life as the days and weeks passed and I settled back into a more sedentary life that was rich with resources and opportunities but lacking in nature, movement, community and connection.
Surprise 8. How the Nepalese listen and Canadians talk.
When I arrived in Nepal, I immediately noticed how the Nepalese listen deeply and with full presence. They are able to be in silence, be with silence and allow silence to hang. In contrast, North American culture is all about the talking. Arriving back to Toronto I was surprised by the amount of constant, loud talking. We talk at each each and talk to make our opinions known.
There were surprises where my core personal values came alive in fulfillment and resonance, or when I experienced an inner chafing, a personal struggle of conflicting values.
There were surprising moments where a few of my core personal values declared themselves and wanted me to honour them more.
There were surprising places where I experienced a struggle between my values and those of my culture and society.
Surprising insights and realizations can happen when we leave anywhere or anything:
Leaving a vacation place.
Leaving a workplace, a job, a career.
Leaving a relationship or friendship.
Leaving an experience.
Leaving a habit.
Leaving a lifestyle.
Being aware of the surprises we have after leaving can not only give us important insights into ourselves. It can also help us understand and honour our true self.
What have you left?
What things have surprised you since leaving?