Dear Ma. Yesterday evening, a friend of mine suggested that I write a post about my achievements during this almost a year of traveling. I thanked my friend for her idea and decided not to write any such post as I am not comfortable blowing my own trumpet or shoving my milestones in peoples’ faces. Instead, last night I spent an hour coming up with the idea and content for new article on my blog which would highlight the human values that I connected with during my travels. I was all set to publish that post today morning and it would have taken just one click to do that. Yet, I couldn’t shrug off the feeling that something was amiss somewhere. I had no idea what exactly was missing and I was confused. I still remember, not long ago during my times of confusion you were just a phone call away and I would get a lot of clarity after talking to you.
The more I thought about you, all the childhood memories came back and along with those came a realization that the values I learnt during my travels are actually reflections of the values that you had imbibed in me during my growing up years. Somewhere in the process of getting deep into my professional life for the last nine years, I feel I got deviated from those very teachings of yours. I realized that ever since I quit my corporate job and took a different path in life, I did not learn those values but I actually rediscovered those and reconnected with their importance. So instead of writing a full fledged post about my travel lessons, I dedicate this post to you and your three ideals that have transformed me into the person I am today.
There is no better good than helping someone in need
These are the first words I remember you speaking to me as far as I can delve into my childhood. Ma, I did not give up my comfortable life in Singapore just so that I can travel places. In the last seven months, I have traveled to four countries where I have been involved in community development programs and volunteered with an NGO that rescues and rehabilitates children from the sex trade in Cambodia. I worked at a marinelife conservation centre in Indonesia where I had the chance to be involved in protecting the beautiful underwater species. In a rural region of Indonesia, I volunteered as an English teacher where I got an opportunity to inspire some wonderful young minds. Through each of these activities, I felt a sense of satisfaction of giving back to the community and environment in any way I could. Today, as I look back through those seven months, I feel that somewhere in me the existence of your spoken words gave me the push to go out and help people and beings in need.
Accept the Bad Times as you would do the Good Times
“Life is wonderful with good days but incomplete without the bad days” – you kept telling me all the time. Throughout my comfortable and luxurious life in Singapore, I took those words for granted as I had more of the good days. It is when I was first confronted one of the most terrible sights of humanitarian abuse in Cambodia, I didn’t exactly know how to react. I have had some pretty amazing experiences while traveling across the four countries and I continue to do so. At the same time, I have had equally bad times in the form of health issues, snakebites, debit card scams and of course the quintessential heartbreaks. During all those moments, I have learnt how to embrace the bad times. Because Ma, as you had taught me, good or bad, times are bound to change.Once again, I have now learnt to value the good days as prized possessions and embrace the bad days as inevitable reality as I sail through them.
Mean no disrespect to anybody or anything
I have met a lot of people from different backgrounds – cultural and national – during my travels. I have lived with families and folks who are not as privileged as ours. I have been part of different religious ceremonies, made efforts to learn the native language of a particular country and experienced new cultures. The more I lived this lifestyle, the more I started to appreciate the significance of diversity in our world. My heart and mind are more open than ever. Although there will always be a few ways I might not agree to but it is the presence of good in all the different faces, communities, religions and beliefs that I chose to absorb. With every passing day during my journey, I have started to develop more love and respect for all forms of life.
I completely understand and appreciate that you are concerned about my wellbeing. But Ma, I find more meaning in the life that I am living right now. As I am writing this post sitting in a beautiful cafe and eco-stay in Goa, I want to thank you for all the human values that you had taught me. Contrary to popular belief, you and your values are my biggest motivation to go out on this journey of doing something good to the world. If only you could be here for sometime, meet the lovely people I am surrounded with and see the kind of work I am involved in, I am sure you would give me that one BIG HUG that I have been longing for. My mind and heart is open Ma. I am getting fitter, thanks to a crazy and wonderful Aussie. Oh, and I, the guy who is afraid of dogs, am playing with five of them here these days 🙂
Instead of taking me further away, Traveling has brought me closer to your values more than I ever was!!