Let’s play a game. Grab a globe, and plop it down on the middle of your living room floor. Gather whomever you’d like to join you. This game is fit for any amount of players at any age, from 1 to 100 (or more if you’re up for it). Now that you’re settled in a circle around the globe, choose the youngest person to go first. That player will spin the globe, close her eyes, and place her pointer finger lightly on the globe’s surface so that the bumps of the mountains and smoothness of the valleys are felt but not seen.
Once the globe has come to a rest, the player opens her eyes and looks to see where on the world she is. All players get to join in now, dreaming of that land and sharing any stories each might have about the country or state Player 1 has found. After a minute or two of allowing imaginations to run wild and stories to be shared about the chosen location, Player 1 will pass the globe to the person seated to her left. Continue to take turns, passing clockwise, until the bell rings. That bell signals the end of today’s game and the time to wash your hands and run upstairs to dinner.
Each moment in your life shapes who you are today and who you will become tomorrow. It’s common to find quotes that express similar ideas and to use them as inspiration to get through tough times. It’s equally as important to use them in all situations, including the unnoticed and mundane occurrences.
-Everything happens for a reason-
-It was a blessing in disguise-
Malcom Gladwell is an author who through his books goes into great detail about several global phenomena that have occurred throughout history where seemingly minute details have a powerful effect on the outcome of people, places, and moments. For example, did you know that professional hockey players are far more likely to be born within the first three months of the year? Or that the reasons behind some of the most devastating airplane crashes have been attributed to caste systems? Or that your choice in attending a prestigious University may have a more negative effect on your future than if you’d chosen a smaller college?
While reading the works of Malcolm Gladwell, it’s near impossible not to think about the influences that may have a much more profound effect on your own nature and abilities. As a reader who likes to soak in the information presented and sit on it for a while, it took me nearly two months to read Outliers. This was nothing in comparison to the two years it took me to read my very favorite book of all time, Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist.
No doubt, I can sit down and get through a Nicholas Sparks novel in an evening, but my intentions are then turned from those of deep understanding to those of ‘let’s shed a little tear and laugh a little laugh.’ Each has its own time and place!
As a person who tends to reflect upon different situations at an incredibly deep level, I found that during the time it took read Outliers at a rate of a few pages each day on the way to and from work, I would find myself thinking more critically about the effects of life’s past experiences.
This isn’t a living in the past ordeal. I don’t wish to relive past events. Instead, I wish to understand their effect on the world today.
How have past events shaped where and who I am today?
How did homes, schooling, family, pets, friends, sports all combine to create a certain path?
Some of the answers are surprising, if you really take the time to think.
Like I said earlier, I tend to think quite deeply about different topics, and sometimes the answers I come up with are more romanticized than hardcore facts.
How did something as seemingly unremarkable as playing a game which required only one object and one person help me to become the Anika I am?
In those younger ages, it was a simple way to pass time before dinner, and sometimes it was a good sag-way into asking Mom and Dad to watch Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, one of the few shows we could get at home without cable. Now that I’m a little older and the internet has put a world’s worth of information at our fingertips, sites like Pinterest and Google Maps have replaced this game.
Social media has also allowed access to other people’s lives and to their travels. Last year, my yoga teacher from El Paso ventured to India for a yoga-centered trip, and shared many of her photos and thoughts along the way. The joy that she elicited through postings and pictures lit a little fire in my mind that grew through time.
After moving to Kuwait (I wonder, Did my finger ever land on this minuscule country as we played spin the globe?), the world shrunk so much! Instead of India seeming like a far-off foreign field of peaceful, exotic animals and people, it seemed like a much closer field of peaceful, exotic animals and people.
With a two week break in December, it seemed like the perfect time to go. It also aligned well with India’s ideal travel season, meaning monsoon weather was off the radar.
Beginning in early October, I began to research different trip options, again turning to the internet for more inspiration- Pinterest, travel blogs, tour guides. It became quickly apparent that traversing the entire country in two weeks would be downright impossible. So, I picked the one place I wanted to go more than anywhere else in all of India: The Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal is part of a common travel circuit known as The Golden Triangle, which includes the cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. The three cities are close enough to get to by an afternoon’s bus or train ride, and are possible to explore in a few days if time is limited. I was really interested in exploring the cultures and historical sites, and thought it’d be best to do the trip solo style. Scouring travel agencies’ websites and researching where they take their clients helped me get a better idea of the other cities in the Rajasthan area of India. I figured if travel agents were taking their clients to certain locations, those sites must be something to see! I made a list which grew and grew with time, and along with the list, my excitement built up exponentially.
Through research, I also became cognizant of one of the world’s treasures that Ben and I had no doubt come across while playing Spin the Globe: the top of the world. Not the top of the world as in The North Pole. Top of the World as in Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, situated just East of India in Nepal.
Add that to the list!
Between The Golden Triangle and Mount Everest is a huge land of various cultures and landscapes. There are tea fields, Hindu and Buddhist historical sites, tiger sanctuaries , big cities, small towns- so much!
When friends and family got wind of where I was headed, they offered great advice. They told me of the India Railway’s beloved Palace on Wheels, the Lotus Temple, and Jodhpur. They also advised that I don’t go alone, especially in Northern India. This is one piece of advice I might ignore more than I follow, but due to an uncomfortable situation I was involved with in Kuwait just a month ago, I decided that for once I’d take the advice and not go alone. Not for the first week at least!
I found a tour company that offered a 7 night, 8 day tour of the Golden Triangle at an insanely good price. After the 8 days were finished, I figured I’d go on my own and somehow end up in Kathmandu, Nepal to finish off the two weeks. What I was to do between the tour’s end and the day I was to fly home was still TBD even as I boarded the plane from Kuwait to New Delhi. I was set to play Spin the Globe once I got there, and couldn’t be more thrilled to the adventure that lay ahead.
I’ll take you on this adventure, one step at a time, over the next few days… or weeks 😉 We’ll see how the inspiration strikes and how the memories flood back. In the meantime, you’ve got two tasks. First, go grab yourself a globe. Second, think of one seemingly irrelevant event that happened years ago, and trace it to see how it’s taken you to where you are now. Now get spinning!