As I was packing for this epic adventure, 8 countries, 8 weeks, 100 degrees of temperature variation, my friend, Victor, suggested that I write a blog about what's in my pack. I was pretty proud of all the just-in-case gadgets that I was able to squeeze into a backpack and a duffel so that I would find myself "without" something that I "needed."
I packed all of the chargers that I could need (iphone/ipad, kindle, keyboard, headlamp) along with extras, plenty of mini-toiletries, a yoga mat towel, fleece lined wind and waterproof jacket, Croc flip flips and mary-janes, and much more.
But what do I really need?
Five weeks later, after completing the two-week trek to Everest Base Camp, I shipped a 33-pound box back home. I was happy to part with this extra weight of coats, boots, souvenirs, socks, etc.
With only a large backpack and a handbag, I checked in 3 hours before my flight from Kathmandu to Kuala Lumpur. "Shoot," I thought as I realized my backpack weighed twice the limit for carry-on luggage, so I had to check it. I actually felt free like a bird as I whizzed through security and onto my gate.
My flight was painful. We were delayed for 2 hours on the runway and I developed a dehydrated headache in the process. I couldn't wait to claim my backpack to get some Advil. I also noticed that my nails needed to be clipped. I'll fix that when I get my bag too. Also, I'm feeling warmer than I thought on this flight. I can't wait to change into something lighter.
Upon arrival, I impatiently circled the baggage claim belt, along with about 15 others. The sign flashed, "Last Bag" and then the next city title "Bangkok" presented itself.
"No! No! No! Where my bag?!" I began to panic.
A crowd formed and people started to grumble at a nearby agent. He claimed that he was looking into it...
After some mumbling on the walkie talkie he turned to us, "So, it looks like your bags are still in Kathmandu. You'll have to file a claim at the office and we'll get those bags to you on the same flight out tomorrow."
"Oh no! I'm transferring to Siem Reap, Cambodia, early tomorrow morning!!!" I declare. The baggage agent assured me that my bag will arrive in Cambodia in a day and a half. They will call my hotel when it's ready.
I couldn't believe this! I mean, yes, I've had my bags lost before by the airlines, but this time I didn't deserve this! I went to so much trouble to pack carefully! I packed a different pair of my yoga leggings (http://www.halfmoonyogaandart.com/yoga-leggings.html) to record a yoga video in each country! I thought the Universe wanted me to do this trip! Why was I being punished?
When I arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia, I'm was dying to change into something cooler. It's a blazing 100 degrees! I bought mini shampoo (without conditioner), toothbrush, toothpaste, body wash, sunblock, deodorant, and bug spray along with 2 light dresses and a pant outfit. As a towel, I used my scarf.
Each day I asked the host at my hostel if the airport called about my luggage. He just laughed and said no no!
On my 90 minute tuk tuk ride to Kbal Spean Waterfall trail, we passed many locals going through the actions of their daily life. Their homes were thrown together with sticks and lose pieces. Their beds were hammocks. Their clothes were mis-matched, yet the kids would look up at me and smile and wave. I began to reflect on what I really NEED, not only to survive, but to be happy.
Oxygen, water, food and some type of shelter over our heads along with protective clothing. To avoid disease, it is important to cleanse regularly too. But, I don't really need my fancy facial and body products, 3 extras chargers, extra books (just in case I get board), an extensive first aid kit, all 8 pairs of my specially designed yoga leggings, etc. These things are simply nice to have to avoid discomfort.
However, its our ego that wants to avoid discomfort because it doesn't want us to grow. Through the struggle, challenge, or obstacle that we are faced with, we are able to see what we're made of. We are able to overcome our selfish desires and feel more connected with the larger living world and Universe.
I realized that I'm much more free than I was with all that luggage. I can breathe breaths of gratitude and I feel sheltered in the clothes that I'm wearing now. I'm fortunate to have food and a LifeStraw with clean water filter.
I began to feel overwhelmed with how blessed I was in this place, in this moment now. I don't need anything else. In Pantajali's 8 Limbed Path to Enlightenment we call this attitude, Santosha. It means to be grateful for everything that we have without greed or desire for more, whether it be a pile of dirt, or a mansion of gold.
I finally realized the valueable lesson that the Universe wanted to teach me, to travel lightly on this spiritual journey with an attitude of Santosha and Aparigraha (One of the Yamas, guidelines for Universal Morality), meaning non-hoarding.
Three days later, on my way back to the airport in Siem Reap, I was wondering if my backpack was there waiting for me. I made peace with the Universe and agreed to remain happy either way. It was there and as I lifted it onto my back. It felt ridiculous to have so much stuff. Next time I travel, I will certainly take much less!