Either you decide to stay in the shallow end...
"Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out into the ocean."
~ Christopher Reeves
When I am in India, in a way things are much more simple than home. In the morning I wake up with the sun. I shower, I eat, and what I do with my day is entirely up to me, but it really comes down to two options: I can say yes or I can say no. Each day is a challenge to say yes to breaking out of the comfort zone. If I go outside at all, the chaos of the city will absolutely challenge me, whether I decide to walk down the street for a few quick errands, or travel to a new part of the city. I recently spoke to a few long-time Mumbaikars (as they are called), and this phenomenon of not being able to handle the sheer volume of city-ness of Mumbai is very common. Many people hwo have lived here struggle with either leaving or coming back - not wanting to bear the insanity of the insanely dense city, but still having feelings of home attached. Especially when I am feeling overwhelmed by my surroundings or the previous day's activities, it can be hard to say yes, and staying in sometimes seems like the preferred option. Sometimes I need to recharge.
My friends visited 7 places of worship yesterday, I visited 5 with them. A mosque, a hindu temple, a sky blue synagogue, a Sikh temple, a Parsi temple. On a Sunday. It may have been the wrong day to try to visit places like these. But we made it happen, crazy as it was. We took a cab, we walked, and one friend even conducted a surprise informal interview to some locals when we found that we were not allowed in the Parsi temple (they are very private). We saw the range of human privilege and misfortune, and it was of course a lot to take in.
Yesterday also reminded me that I am a "have." I have a clean place to sleep and shower. The firmness of the mattress suddenly does not matter, the temperature of the shower somehow becomes significantly less important. When you are face-to-face with humans who do not have these things regularly and persistently, the quality becomes insignificant. Knowing that you have what you need is enough, and what you want (in an immediate, comfort/luxury sense) becomes less important.
The last couple days have been a little hard for me to process. The pace here is intense. My teacher is traveling, and so I have not had access to drums, which has had an impact on my mood/productivity level. It's been difficult to have to continuously put off the thing I really need to do (because I don't have much of an option). Yet I know that I have what I essentially need, and that fact is everywhere around me. This again makes things simple. Deal with not having - because you either don't or you do. You stay or you go.
This morning - I stayed. I ate breakfast alone (my room mates are gone now), and I let myself exist without the constant company of new friends, which brings the fact that I am alone and without an instrument yet to the surface again. I let myself feel a little homesick, and I got to talk to Mat, which was incredibly comforting. It made me remember that I am here and I am fine and that this is what growing feels like. It is never comfortable, that is not the point. The reason I came here is to be challenged in a bigger way. Maybe that way is not what I had intended, but it is still happening now. It always comes back to this. I have two options: I can choose to stay or choose to go. I am thankful I have people who will remind me that I should choose go.
Me, sweating, at the Haji Ali mosque.