This is the one year I’m glad to kick to the curb. Glad it’s almost over and done with and one I’d like not to remember too much. And yet, 2014 is probably the year that has challenged me the most personally and professionally. Hmm….is it that I now know myself better than I did in my early 20’s when I emigrated from Europe to North America? Granted, that was definitely a tough year. But maybe because I was so young then, the big move seemed like an adventure, a journey full of promise and excitement.
We build stories as we narrate our experiences, if for no other purpose than to make sense of lived lives. This past year for me still begs to be told even to myself as it’s not yet all that clear. The dust from the upheavals is still settling. Curiously, we seem to find the relevant writers when we search for narratives that open up to us differently at different times in our lives. Recently found a quote by a writer Robert McKee who said that “stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.” So insightful and so true.
India will change you and in ways you won’t always recognize. That’s in a nutshell the message I’ve read in travelogues and books, such as Edward Luce’s In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India. I’m still learning. Living and working in the south of India and traveling on the subcontinent, including a visit to Nepal, shifted my personal platelets and reorganized my consciousness. Still figuring out how I changed, but changed I have. The only thing that’s become clearer to me is that I need to write about the “shifts” and what they mean after coming back.
A few people I’ve met since my return in late 2013 have asked me if I went to look for spiritual meaning in India. I laugh a little because so many westerners still consider India the exotic, other-worldly place, so distant and different and yes, vexing. Or, perhaps the legacy of the 1960’s celebrities flocking to India in search of meaning in life is wearing thin very slowly. No. I went there to work. To take a great full time, well paid job to get away from the insecure Canadian economy struggling to pull itself out of the post 2007 crisis. I lived in and experienced the “new” or “modern” India people can’t stop talking about even today. The new economy that is in rivalry with China to become the new Asian power engine for creating wealth and prosperity. And yes, I witnessed that emerging power as it unfolded around me in the Indian corporate world. However, what I wasn’t prepared for was to be as profoundly affected as I was by the ancient traditional India that is very much alive in one of the most populous and regionally diverse countries on this planet.
I actually think the major challenge – rather daunting in fact in its scale – for India as well as for China seems to be how to integrate capitalism into their ancient societies and cultures that are thousands of years rich in traditions, knowledge and wisdom. It is not so surprising then that I, too, am changing as a result of having been a witness to a far more colossal shifting that is unfolding globally.