For most of my adult life, I travelled to travel. I didn’t think much of it, I packed my bags and went. However, there were times in my life that I visited an unknown city with great expectations, only to find out that nothing was truly different. In fact, those were likely the trips I do not remember. A great realization throughout the years was the understanding of equanimity of all human beings. Yes, there are various markers of difference, which are evidently visible and observable. But, it was during moments of deep interaction, when two or more human beings come together and the understanding that one’s country of citizenship, financial or social status is just a man-made creation meant to separate. Are those separations real and observable? Absolutely! In our mind, these differences are, like a tree’s roots, sturdy and deep. It is in the process of pulling those roots out from the deep crevices of the core of our beliefs that we are shaken. I am fortunate to have had many experiences in my life, through travelling various countries but specifically to economically disadvantaged ones like Nepal, Armenia, Egypt, Colombia, and China where these shakes were more impactful.
When one looks for moments to capture, inorganically, the experience just isn’t the same. We often want to visit poor regions or countries to make a difference. I know I did earlier on. Carrying our Western altruistic mindset of “I am the helper” and “you are the receiver” mindset already creates a huge gap. It wasn’t until last year that I realized, I am the one who is learning most, in fact. I am not here to teach anyone anything. I am here to learn. The wisdom and knowledge I get from the villager, the child, the woman who has lost her husband is not more or not less than the one I go in with. It is equal, but at the same time one that I have not experienced before, hence valuable to me. We are equals during those moments of interaction and the differences placed on to us disappears as we laugh, share and bathe in those moments of joy.
The one thing that I learned with my weekend visit to work in this disputed region, as part of my project Stega: A Perfect Union, is that all beings seek happiness. This is a basic tenet all humans want. We all truly want to be happy. Here are the three moments that brought me, once again, to that realization.