July 23, 2014

8 Things I Learnt from Traveling to Nepal. ~ Elyane Youssef

Photo Elyane Youssef

On February 26, 2:30 a.m. I was boarding my plane to Nepal. With only a backpack and a camera, I took off to the place where I knew I will be reborn.

One month there was quite enough to let me come out with constructive lessons and new experiences. What have I learnt there is abundant.

1. Time.

The moment I set foot in Nepal, I instantly snapped out of time.

There were days where I had no clue about the date or the hour; I would guess the actual clock by the sunset or the sunrise. There, I only used it when I needed it, and that was mainly happening when we were meeting people somewhere at a specific time.

I learnt how to listen to my body and to its needs. I ate when hungry and slept when sleepy. I went out when I felt like going out and I locked myself in my room when I wasn’t in the mood for people. I did what I felt like doing, not what others or obligations impose on me. The result was astonishing. The bulk of my joy was because I was freed from time.

2. Backpacking.

Backpacking taught me impermanence.

When you backpack there is no degree of probability or chance involved; change is inevitable there. When I arrive at a place half of my backpack would be emptied, only to find myself a few days later filling it again. At every location I met amazing people whom I had to say goodbye to because I was moving.

At first, I felt smothered. Yet, after one week, I adapted; I had to adapt. Backpacking is a reflection of how our life operates. Everything is in constant change and we keep on moving onward even though we don’t see it; or deny it.

3. Materials.

I went to Nepal with only two pants.

One which I was wearing and one tucked in my backpack. I had with me two or three tops, a couple of necessary stuff, one book to read and my sketch book. And what I came across wouldn’t have been realized too easily. What I came across was that I was doing more than fine with only the things I brought with me; not to mention the fact that most of them weren’t even used.

I was away from my room which is filled up with things that I have accumulated over the years. All the things which I kept, bought or tucked away, weren’t needed in Nepal; they didn’t even cross my mind. When I was back, I perceived my room as a kingdom. It was too big for me with too many unnecessary things which I threw away in no time.

4. Love. 

Nepal taught me that there is no duality in love.

We tend to split love in our daily life. For instance, the closest to us gets the bulk of it while the farthest nearly gets none. We divide people into sections and give each the love that fits best into his position. While doing so, we forget the other energies that need love as well; we forget strangers, homeless people and stray dogs.

Once, my friend and I put this into the test and we got one shocking result. We decided to walk the streets of Kathmandu for one hour, saying to everyone passing by “I love you.” I don’t recall one single person who didn’t respond. When they hear “I love you,” most of them would smile/laugh telling us thank you. I even remember one man who hugged my friend tightly. Exhilarated, he told her that he loves her back.

5. Openness.

In Nepal, I learnt that one must develop openness toward everything; whether experiences or people.

The reason behind this is that no matter how much we think we are knowledgeable, we are not. We are an entity that can never be shut at a certain point. We are meant to learn from each other and from everything surrounding us. In Nepal, I met a lot of people whom they indirectly taught me plentiful of things which I would never forget and would still apply for the rest of my life.

6. Ask and the universe shall provide.

When I traveled, my list of plans was quite short; on purpose.

I only planned for a short trek, a monastery program and a visit to two places. I had another virtual list which I intended on doing, yet I left it to the universe with a faithful attitude. The list included finding a place where I can daily meditate, a group of people whom I can hike with, a place where I can camp and the chance to watch a sunrise or a sunset over The Himalayas.

As a result of trusting the universe, a Buddhist center was right next to my guest house and I attended daily meditations which were of great help. I met a group of people whom we went hiking with to amazing places and I got to camp in the most breathtaking place on earth. I watched one sunset and two sunrises that I shall remember for evermore. After two weeks of experiencing the universe’s miracles, I chilled and stopped checking my to-do-list.

7. Judgment and gratitude.

I came across so many beautiful houses in Nepal that made me question the locals’ mindset.

They lived where I hoped I would stay. Their houses are more like cottages, with gardens of their own grown food and a dog that was once a street dog but now with a home. I would watch them for hours trying to depict their lifestyle. To my surprise, not all of them were happy; they wished we would swap places. By knowing this, I learnt not to judge the unknown and that what you see is not what there is. I was grateful at that very moment, for what I considered as hell was heaven for someone else.

8. It’s the company that matters.

It was one rainy night in December when an old colleague and I were having wine in a pub. We were both seeking change and new paths to walk. I wanted to leave but there was no one to leave with; except for her.

I took a sip, looked at her and asked her if she would go with me to Nepal. Two weeks later, the tickets were booked. In one month, the backpack was ready. In two months, I found myself on a plane going with her to my life changing experience. I learnt that the company in traveling is more important than the traveling itself, for if the fellowship was bad, the whole trip will turn bad.

Furthermore, you don’t learn all of the precious lessons all alone; you will get to share them. And once shared, you realize that the trip wasn’t only life changing for you, but for your companion as well.


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Author’s own.

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