The other night we said farewell to seven misty eyed (and let’s be honest, two similarly fogged up OE’s) students in the Delhi airport. As strange as it is to know and feel that our three month adventure together has come and passed, we can all understand it better now that we have talked and argued and meditated upon the now familiar idea that everything is impermanent (see: Truth, Noble #2). We have happily witnessed a tremendous amount of growth during our time in India, and everyone is returning home with a vast corpus of stories, cultural and personal wisdom, and with the awareness that some of the most important lessons from this semester are yet to come. As our compatriots arrive home, this will become apparent: that their view of the world and themselves has changed and that this conviction is worn with confidence and colorful crotch pants. What has not changed or lost its luster whatsoever, indeed it might even have been burnished and polished to blind, is their curious spirit that beckoned each of them onto this eye-opening, head bobbling adventure in the first place. One piece of advice from us to the friends and family of them all: Be gentle these first few days. Adventuring and sojourning does not end upon the return home, but in fact has just begun. Give them some space to reflect and when they feel prepared, their stories will flood your life.
We were constantly impressed with our Shiva group. During the last week of student directed travel, evidence of their incredible development surrounded us. The seven wise travelers led us on an animal themed adventure throughout the bush and cities of Rajastan and the Great Thar Desert. In Bikaner we were amused (and for some, grossed out) at the Rat Temple where the critters were as quick to fight like ninjas as they were to climb upon our laps. Camels were our vehicle of choice to get into the bush and though their saddles brought new understanding to the word tight, so too did camping in the desert give new perspective on the idea of openness. In Jaipur we were harassed, grew fearful of and then fell again for the mischievous and daring denizens of the monkey temple, and then we culminated our zoological studies riding, feeding and painting elephants, all while enduring the cheesy smile of our host and his rehearsed spiel of incredible proportion. And in between these activities, we did our final sitting with India, embracing and warding off the impatience with the noise and crowded streets, laughing and cringing on our final rickshaw drives, and buying and stuffing already full backpacks with the colorful, cultural charms she produces.
We have traveled a great distance upon this adventure, but from our perspective, the furthest distance ventured was not external, but internal. Keep exploring this terrain whether the vagaries of swing find you on the road or in the classroom. And do so with the mindfulness we know you all have.
Fellow Shiva travelers, you are all such wonderful spirits with so much to give to this world. We appreciate all your hard work and dedication, all the chances you took and all the humor you shared. Never stop engaging your curiosity and remember to always bend and e-stretch.
There is really only one way this blog can end.
We thank you thank you thank you, we thank you thank you thank you, we thank you thank you thank you from our heart. We miss you miss you miss you, we miss you, miss you miss you, we miss you miss you miss you from our heart. We love you love you love you, we love you love you love you, we love you love you love you FROM OUR HEART.
With much love and appreciation,
Paff and Diane