Whether you are a religious person or not, or whether you believe in an afterlife or not, one thing is for sure, life is one big adventure or at least it should be! A little while ago I discovered through research that the average person lives to be around 80 years of age which means I have approximately 31 years left. This gave me quite an abrupt awakening with the realisation that the time I have, is less than I’ve actually lived, and half that time I don’t remember. Thinking about it in this way, must mean that I’ve wasted half this time doing things that don’t really matter, or are not so significant. This revelation stunned me to the core, and I decided to do something about it. This was the point where I gave up my job of 20 years and travelled to India with no plan of where my future would lead. I didn’t know whether if I would come back and I sold everything I owned. Work colleagues either thought I was having some kind of mid life crisis, gone completely mad or simply needed some time out to reassess my situation. In my heart however, I knew that the biggest reassessment had already happened and now it was time to start living my life which unfortunately didn’t involve sitting behind a computer for the next 20 years. Deciding to go and actually getting the tickets, was the biggest liberation I’ve ever experienced in my life. It’s really strange when something like this happens, you don’t really think. It’s as if some strange force of power takes over your body, and all you can think about is ‘I am and I will’ So why India? Well to be honest it could’ve been anywhere, but I’ve always had a fascination with India and so I thought why not? I’d never been on an aeroplane before and it seemed quite pointless to go somewhere insignificant, so I settled for India and it blew my mind. The differences between Indian culture and western culture are astounding, time means absolutely nothing. In fact, each clock says a different time because people get up, they live and then they sleep and this is the thing that’s always fascinated me about western culture. In Western culture that bit in the middle LIFE seems to get overlooked because most of it is spent sitting behind a computer, or running around trying to meet targets or achieve unobtainable deadlines in the belief that somehow it will make us happy. How incredibly deluded people can be! Here we live in a culture with the best of everything, we have Computers, IPads & the most innovative technology, flatscreen TVs, Digital technology the best methods of communication and still we can’t show compassion to our neighbour. In India it’s very rare to find any of these luxuries unless you happen to be very wealthy or they are second-hand or have been donated, yet walk down any Indian street, and see people laughing and joking with each other, older men sitting together drinking tea after a hard days work and women working in the fields chatting as one close knit community and I wonder with envy……Who got it wrong? For the next 6 months India was my home, becoming involved in the local culture, eating with local families and living a local Indian life of simplicity. My room had a bed and wash-basin nothing more, a real luxury, and for the first time in my life I was actually living. In the mirror each morning, a different face stared back bright eyed, fresh skin & my hair felt healthy, a feeling of being just as I should be at that moment, complete and balanced. In just one month I had noticed my mood becoming very peaceful and tranquil, I didn’t get worried Or frustrated about the trivial things in life as I used to, simply because there was nothing to worry about. Even more bewildering was the fact that I didn’t even care where my next money was coming from because there was no need to care. In India it’s very easy to live comfortably and nutritionally on around 4 or 5 pounds (500 Rs) a day after your rent so my money was going a lot further. Shopping was easy too! No lack of energy to get up off the sofa and make a move ‘I didn’t have a sofa’ It was up, washed and out to flag down a Rickshaw, and flag down another to come back for just a few pence. Life had never been simpler everyone was friendly and life was carefree. I had very little money but the riches I had far far outweighed the British pound. Amidst all the wonderment, came occasional contact with my friends, family and colleagues from work which were delightfully funny with clumsily inquisitive questions such as… “how are you surviving?” “Oh my god! how can you live such a primitive life?” And “what are you eating?” Such questions always brought a smile to my face as I responded peacefully and thoughtfully “I could ask you the same question’ From a personal perspective, I would recommend that everyone thinks about how much time they may actually have left on the earth, to live their life and to fulfil all those dreams they put on hold until a more convenient time. At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that the research I had undertaken showed the average person living until the age of 80 however as I’m sure you will agree, old-age is not a given right it is a privilege that only the fortunate get to fulfil and this is why I believe in living life in the here and now. Don’t waste what little time you have left, think about all those unfulfilled dreams you have and then the time you have left to fulfil them. Only you alone can control the twists and turns of your life path and ensure that the memories you leave behind are crazy ones of a person whom nobody understood, but everyone wanted to be like.
“There is only one important point you must keep in your mind and let it be your guide. No matter what people call you, you are just who you are. Keep to this truth. You must ask yourself how is it you want to live tyour life. We live and we die, this is the truth that we can only face alone. No one can help us, not even the Buddha. So consider carefully, what prevents you from living the way you want to live your life?” ― Dalai Lama