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Walking in the rooms of time

What I learned travelling to India

Every day, we are surrounded by tons of people, running back and forth with the constant feeling and fear of being late. As I live in a big city, Madrid, I know that my feelings and daily life are very similar to those of so many other people that live in hectic and big cities around the world.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love the city where I live with every fibre of my being, the crowd has a life of its own, and even though it’s busy, the hustle and bustle brings a life to the city I wouldn’t want to be without.

People flow like rivers in the streets and we are all part of this flow where you could be anyone, or perhaps no one at all. It’s both reassuring – because you know that you are never alone somehow – and exhausting at the same time– noisy and busy places make you feel tired, stressed out and alone too, no matter how many people might surround you. This is the most inexplicable paradox of our times.

Sometimes, whenever I’m on the train or walking down the street, I look at people faces, trying to imagine what’s on their mind, what worries them, what makes them happy…However, there’s a common thread running through all of us, no matter how different our stories and backgrounds might be: the never-ending struggle against time.

As Miles Davis once said, “Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.” We run back and forth, trying to achieve our daily goals, but sometimes I wonder: What are we genuinely busy with? For instance, if we don’t have time to grab a coffee with a friend or to hang out with our loved ones or even just time for ourselves, is this how we really want to spend our time, which is nothing else than saying our life? Isn’t it a huge threat to our happiness living in a rat race?

I don’t claim to have any solutions at hand, I don’t have any magic formula nor any detailed step-by-step list of advices to better manage our time. But I do have an invaluable teaching that I preciously guard and that I’d love to share with you all, because it made me think a lot and change my perspectives in terms of priorities.

In June 2018, I travelled around India, it was a fantastic experience. One day, I was exploring the beautiful city of Jaipur and on my way to the hotel, an old lady stopped me on the street to offer me a chai tea at her store at the corner. I thanked her for inviting me but I told her I had no time for that.

She smiled and stared at me for a while. Then, she said: “Young lady, how can you be in a rush? You look very young and for sure you are here from far away… I’d like to tell you a short story, please take a seat!” And I did so, a little hesitant, and she started speaking while closing her eyes once in a while:

“Amrit was an impatient, curious and busy young guy. He worked hard his entire life and was constantly busy with any kind of commitments. One day, he walked in a beautiful and ancient temple that was full of rooms one after the other. Before entering the building, he was told he could just go on to the next room but not back for a second time. He started exploring the first rooms, so beautifully frescoed inside that he couldn’t even describe how many shades of colours, patterns and details had been interwoven on those walls for centuries. There was a lot of light in those first rooms, and even though Amrit was amused by such mysterious beauty, he jumped from a room to the next one pretty fast, anxious to see what was next and worried to waste too much time in one single room, without observing any details for too long. But surprisingly, he realised that the more he went ahead, the more the brightness decreased and for some reasons, even the colours on the walls seemed to be less bright and intense. Slowly, his excitement to run to the next room decreased too, as he felt kind of disappointed by the expectations he had, until he felt nostalgic of that beautiful atmosphere he found in the very first rooms, if only he could go back!”

For some reasons, I felt so touched by the story of that old lady that she noticed it in my eyes, and she finally concluded: “So, Amrit is me, you and everyone else. Amrit is the representation of any human being struggling against time, looking for God knows what… When you are young, you feel invincible and that time is eternal, but as soon as you grow up, you realise that life isn’t all peaches and dandelions, and that any single moment you decide not to live, is lost forever, or it wouldn’t be the same in any case, since we change too. So, young girl, remember to shine every day and to live your life today, because you can’t go back to the rooms of the past if only through your memories and because you don’t know how your future rooms will look like. ‘Now’ is always the right moment to do things”.

That day, I finally had my chai tea with that kind lady, and I walked away with a new awareness and vision of life, as if it was a stroke of the destiny. I realised for the very first time that I don’t want to miss a single shade of colour nor postpone anything that I can do now, because life is now.

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