Highs and Lows

What questions do I bring forth today? What mundane instances caught my eye and left me high and dry? What search brought on a flurry of more searches? Well, today’s going to be a little different. In the past few weeks, I’ve found a multitude of things that I want to talk, write and think about, and I shall, soon enough, but today, I’m switching my tandem just a tad.

Recently, life’s been more Rocky Road and less Blueberry Swirl. Submerged under a mountainous pile of assignments - some pending and most, already doomed - a couple of really strenuous friendships and a moderately significant heartbreak, the painting seemed all too grey. And while that’s my favourite colour, I don’t prefer it in shades of life. And hence, I did what most suggest you do in times of need: sit, reflect, meditate, or better yet, run away to the hills or the beaches. So, I chose the latter and ran away - to older hills, for a couple of days, met a couple of new people, stayed in a hostel - even strayed away from social media. Phew, right? But, why?

For me, it was just procrastination with a beautiful view and some good food and wine. But that isn’t the case for most, is it? An Eat, Pray, Love escape is not warranted for all. I overheard a fellow dorm-mate say he had earned enough money to buy a big house, but he didn’t want to share it with anyone, so he packed his bags and lo and behold- has been travelling for the last 2 years. His joy and reflection almost made me feel guilty. I didn’t have a good enough reason, nothing as inspirational, nothing with foreshadow per se. Mostly just running away.

Some people travel to challenge themselves - to run amok places one shouldn’t be able to, to jump off of cliffs, to rage in the adrenaline. Some travel with a specific goal. The goal being to learn something: a new dialect, a new cuisine, a different culture or to develop a deeper appreciation for faith or spirituality. Some do it with others to build stronger relationships, to strengthen their bonds. Virtuoso, a popular travel magazine, named ‘Multigenerational Travel’ as the top trend of 2018. One may even move around to find new people to create new friendships, new bonds. Traveling seems like a gift that keeps giving. It expands your perspective, as seen in several eudaimonic travel experience researches. It helps us appreciate our lives, a little more than usual. It also is the reason you can come home and excuse a picture of your room, on your Instagram, with a gif - home sweet home. On note of that, it also makes you InstaPopular (but that’d be very shallow of me to add, so excuse me).

Now, you may think why is this girl jabbering on and on about one trip and how travel is the boon of our existence? Truthfully? I am not so sure. All I had in my head when I started this off was why is it that people suggest traveling when one is sad, or not having the best time. I understand a change of view may bring a change of heart, or how looking at others’ challenges may bring in a better perspective for your own, or how just taking a break must feel amazing. Hell, there’s so much to see, why must there be a reason to feast your eyes? I’m only looking for this socialised understanding’s bare roots.

Every year millions of people leave all that they have, in order to see the world; some in joy, some out of worry, some because there’s no other option. If you’ve watched Parts Unknown, I’m sure Bourdain made you feel all kinds of joy. I distinctly remember him saying in an episode shot in Tangier, Morocco: “I’ve always wanted to get as far away as possible from the place that I was born. Far both geographically and spiritually. To leave it behind.” While this might seem contrary to the inherent human desire to fit into a tribe, to have a close community, it does reflect a state of being less understood.

There are a thousand and one songs - all talking about how one wants to fly away, zoom into sunsets, never to be back - leave it all behind. And while, I’d say most people would love to open their hair, wear 90’s glasses, drive a Camaro along the LA coast, I’m not sure the romanticisation of going away is healthy.

Personally, no part of me can say that I didn’t have a good time. I understand and recognise my privilege at being able to plan a trip to a place and visit it all in about 24 hours. I feel lucky to have seen all that I did and experience all that I experienced. What expunges my certainty of how good all this is - how to let go of the nuisances in your life just by going to a scenic place? I can’t say that when I sat there, listening to a fellow person play the ukulele, sipping my blessed coffee, staring at snow-capped mountains - that I didn’t forget all there was to forget. Sure, I did. But, for how long? And honestly, if I were to forget it all anyway, wouldn’t that be worse? Pathway to repression? Not Disney perfect, albeit Disney recommended. Suppression, the conscious forcing of unwanted thoughts, memories, or feelings out of conscious awareness, more apropos than repression in this scenario, leads to bottling up of feelings and emotions and inability to deal with misgivings in the long run. If used in the right fashion, it may be beneficial, but everytime one is given the chance to run away instead of dealing with something, they miss out on learning. Not to mention, suppression requires that we focus our mind on a negative emotion. By suppressing a feeling of anger, we start worrying about feeling angry, which attaches us to the emotion and heats up our mind and costs us extra energy. A cycle that maybe never ending.

So, I’m not saying don’t go around the world and explore, I implore that you don’t run away from something to look at these otherworldly scenes. I suggest that you deal with all the uglies at hand and then go around looking for beauty. To be what you really want to be, you need to accustom yourself to the steps underneath. Well, that’s all I got today. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.


Harshita Jain

Second year Psychology student from Delhi University, with a keen interest in reading anything from Archer to Rumi. Speaks in analogies, more often than not. Writes poetry and paints, when not testing people's attributes. Believes in Occam's Razor.

The Pangean does not condemn or condone any of the views of its contributors. It only gives them the space to think and write without hindrance.