As I woke up few mornings back, I had a nice realization. I had a strong urge to pick up my old habit of backpacking. Many years ago, I had done this thing in remote places of New Zealand, Australia and India. I was the envy of all upon return, had wonderful stories to tell accompanied by breathtaking photographs. However, the last 3 years, I had given it up for more serious focus on my Krishna Consciousness and career. But the 4 hrs I spent walking the floors of various camping, backpacking and trekking shops today didn’t help to extinguish the desire tree of traveling.
And in those shops I saw wonderful super durable backpacks, ultra light weight tents, even more ultra light weight cooking pots, walking sticks, portable shower, really really ultra thin drying towels, water containers, tough walking boots, maps, compass, mega thin mosquito nets, vacuum flasks etc etc. Wow ! What a time I had looking through the products of material nature. Yes, I did buy a few items…some of the items were on 40-70% sale!
Anyways, the reason I am writing this is because I am confused. I have the following choices:
- undertake a year’s worth of world tour covering Asia, Europe, South America
- Perhaps, settle for a few weeks of camping tours in Australia, say Tasmania
- or take next year off and move to the temple to heighten my knowledge of service and devotion
All of you might say that I should go with the last option cause it will let me help tons of people and also pave my way back to Godhead. Whereas, the first two exercises involving tons of walking, surving harsh climates, living off tin food would guarantee my next birth as a migratory bird or a polar bear even. Not to mention the money spent on air tickets, tour operators and camping gears. This money could easily be used in the service of the Lord.
What do I do? Traveling is so much fun !
I thought I got an answer when I saw this sentence in one of the camping books in the shop…
” What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.”
George Mallory, 1922
No idea who the guy is and pretty sure that he had never read the Bhagavad Gita. Anyways, I almost did consider this age old advice which moved our earth swiftly to its current state. But traveling and seeing the world isn’t like gambling or illicit sex or intoxication. Its an exercise which helps a human discover their relationship with nature not to mention the austerity involved like days without shower, no basmati rice with chick pea curry in spiced yogurt or a heater. Hey, I can be a Krishna Conscious backpacker…I will carry my small Bhagavad Gita book, photos of Sri Radha-Krishna and the acharyas, cook prasadam in my light weight stainless steel utensil, distribute them to other backpackers, do my 16 rounds of chanting near some spectacular waterfall and also listening to kirtans on my iPod as I traverse a national park. No?
I need to think long and hard about this. Its a life changing decision – a year of world travel or a year of temple service. The last time I thought so much was in 1997 when I decided to make a trip to New Zealand again. Towards the end of my adventure travel, as I sat on a street bench asking myself questions about life, purpose, hardships etc…a young clean head shaven western boy approached me from no where and asked if I would be interested to buy the book he held out in his hand – Bhagavad Gita As It Is by His Divine Grace A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. And that purchase got me here.
Perhaps, I should go with travel…….