21st NOVEMBER 2009: 6 years ago… on this date, I had filled up the first page of My Yatra Diary… I vividly remember how excited I was. Picking the article from my offline diary and typing it to an online one. I genuinely hoped that this travelogue would help someone who was searching for related information on the place on the internet or would satiate someone’s wander-love by inviting them on an armchair tour.
The diary, for its share, had filled up some of my idle time as well. Travelling was fine as I was already doing it but writing? The field was new, the roads ahead unfamiliar. But the idea that my travelogues would be helping people was quite an inspiration for me. And so, I dived. Trusting the oceanic current of the all-pervading Universe to wash me over in its own grace and style…
How time has flown since then…
And what a sheer joy and blessing to have come this far. A significant point that marks the 6th year celebrations of the blog, it’s a good time to just pause for a while, marvel and reflect on the journey that has been including the lessons that I have learnt and the insights that I have gathered in this blogging journey of mine.
Below is a compilation that enlists 6 high-points that I could think of while compiling this celebratory 6 years post of my travels and travel blogging:
1. THE POWER OF CREATION.
There is a little child within all of us. One that is totally irreplaceable and one of the most precious beautiful person we will ever meet in our lifetime. But how many times do we realize that? And have the courage to honour, respect, appreciate that pure loving child for who she is and what she says? Views that are independent of the moralistic right and wrong as dictated by the society.
Yes. I am guilt-ridden.
For most of my life, I snubbed and ignored her, my little one within, for the chaotic chatter that the rigid society fed in my mind. Just go away and leave me alone, I used to tell her. I was the person who, for some reason, was always at loggerheads with her.
Thanks to blogging, I have now realized my mistake and this is one space where I let her take the centre stage. Completely. Not only that, I have learnt so many fascinating and new things from her! In blogging, she now has a space for herself where she can create freely and express openly without any negative conversation.
She has continually taught me to filter my thoughts and have the courage to reclaim what is truly and meaningfully mine from the constant barrage of media and frenzied noise that we are fed each day. By creating this blog, she has given me an identity of my own as a liberated human being who loves to play with her own thoughts and ideas and create an art that is soul-signature mine - without really worrying for the approval of others.
I feel so lucky to have her as a friend today and though we are still in the process of getting to know each other, we both revel in the joy of whatever we create, no matter how abstract it might seem to the much civilized beliefs of the society.
2. A SPARK OF SELF-EXPLORATION.
While my yatras took me to new places even as a child moving and discovering newer destinations, it was blogging that provided a medium of transition turning my attention from the outer world to an unmapped space within. It pushed me to dig deeper and see my experiences from a quieter space, in a new light, that light that came from nowhere else but my own being. It was here that… places ceased to be just places anymore, each place now had a personality of its own, one that was revealed differently to different people.
Places now spoke to me and compelled me to dig deeper:
Is the place trying to tell me some story? If so, what? If yes, why?
Blogging invited me to just stop and be still. And answer all these questions in the way I wanted to. In my own style. In my own exclusive way. It was a space where my spiritual life and creative life converged in the insightful yearning to listen to the depths of my travel experiences that often called me beyond myself in search of a greater meaning in life, into a relationship with mystery, and towards a greater contact with the unseen divinity that I have a strong belief in.
And that solitude itself has today became a journey of its kind. A journey that takes me away from the worldliness at the same time bringing me closer to the wonders of the world – the world that I carry within.
3. INDEPENDENCE IS BORING, INTERDEPENDENCE IS FUN!
There is no denying the fact that blogging gives you a great rush of feeling independent.
You know the ‘Write what you think’ kind. 'Who’s there to stop you?'
But to harness the real joy of blogging, over the course of time, I came to appreciate that it was not independence but interdependence that was really the way to happiness and harmony.
‘Write what you think. Who’s there to stop you?
But don’t forget to listen to others viewpoints as well.
And accept what resonates true in your heart’.
A communication channel through the comments section many a times have helped me understand many a different perspectives of my own thoughts. Sometimes it’s not until the time when your own beliefs are put into question, that you make an effort to change and grow.
To interact warmly, to share freely, to trust in people and to enjoy is the crux of any healthy relationship. This journey of blogging has really been no different. Because ultimately, we are all dependent on each other for all the basic human qualities that help our spirits grow.
4. EMBRACING THE JOURNEY AS IT IS.
It’s important to embrace the journey.
No worries. No fears. No harsh self-talks. No judgements.
Embracing it as it is.
I never ever thought of winning a contest even after I had been almost forced to participate in one (there I go again: Didn’t I tell you, I never believed in her. Old habits really do die hard.). And at that point in time, I didn’t even care. What I clearly remember though was the joy after writing these posts and publishing it for everyone to read. The appreciation I received thereafter for all the hard work and soul that I put in was way more a gratifying and rewarding feeling than any tangible award could give. I felt it. Happiness. This happiness was immeasurable and filled me with such ecstasy that it cannot be described in words or equalled to any number of achievements that people generally want to talk about or I go bragging today.
Mind you, this is not to say that I didn’t enjoy my tangible awards (includes 2 dream all-expense paid international trips to Japan and Melbourne) – I am more than grateful to have received them! But my point is that these prizes don't show the entire journey that got me here in the first place. They are the cherries on the cake and not the cake itself.
Same happened with money. The intention to earn anything from my blog was never there. I was so high on the first point (the power of creation) that things like money somehow never dared enter my bliss equation. Hence, I never went out of my way to bag any money from anyone.
And then one day, money came in, and later again and again… when it had to, through people it was meant to. I took some, I rejected many. And today, I have a savings account dedicated solely to my blogs earnings.
I never started the blog to make any friends or do any kind of networking and yet today I feel blessed with the company of wonderful friends, both virtual and real, not only from India but worldwide.
The trick, as I see it now, was to just keep flowing and trust the Universe enough to know what I needed and when, and bring things accordingly.
5. COUNTING MY BLESSINGS AS ACHIEVEMENTS.
For all the immense love that the diary has received till date, I fall short of words to express my immense gratefulness on this nostalgic day. I know friends are wonderful and kind and they will say ‘Arti has been blogging for 6 years continuously – wow.’ But I will tell you something - moments of self-doubts, criticism, harsh judgement, nagging low feeling, weariness, procrastination – you name any of these so called negative emotions and they have all been a companion at different points in my 6 years of blogging journey.
What’s then kept me going is you and only you, your generous blessings and kind well wishes which have smashed any and all impediments that I have tried creating in My Yatra Diary’s way. Like one popular Irish saying goes, I sometimes feel, that in this 6 years of my blogging, God has given His beloved child just about enough of everything she needed to keep her close in His folds. No greater blessing than this!
6. THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE.
What was once a leap of faith into unknown territories… today (I believe and hope) has helped many people plan their travels or give a virtual tour to the rest. For one, it has definitely helped me. Today, my blog is my number one go-to retiring anchorage where I am most happy just being myself. It’s here that I love learning new things about the world and more importantly about my own self, the little child within.
Thank you, all you wonderful people that I met through my blog along my blogging journey. Especially those who are reading this right now. Huge thanks to my family - my father who has always believed in my writing skills more than I will ever do, my dearest brother who believes in the credence of my yatra diary more than I will ever do and my mother who makes sure that I have my feet planted in the reality grounds. And all you beautiful friends, who with your thoughtful footprints, have watered the tiny garden of my soul.
All of you have believed, motivated, challenged, stretched or encouraged me in your own unique ways and helped me stand on my own feet and be wherever I am today. I and my little diary will be forever deeply grateful to all of you.
Thank you, from the depths of my heart for making all this possible.