Tomorrow we leave Cochin and travel to Amritpuri near Quillon - in other words we are going to Ammachi's Ashram. More about that once I have more to say about that - in a couple of days. When we arrived in India, we had only our first stop (Cochin) scheduled. At home, I was having semi-anxiety attacks on a regular basis about the whole prospect of stepping off the edge of my known world without having a specific piece of real estate upon which to step. But I was also stubbornly certain I did not want to schedule things out, make a bunch of reservations, shut down the possibility of synchronicity and serendipity.
After listening to my repetitive anxiety-whining, Chris did his usual thing - he gathered information and offered support - in this case that support took the form of a booking at "Heavenly Homestay" for 4 days. That was such a good husband/father thing to do. Eli and I have been grateful to be able to get our feet on the ground in India, learn what a rupee is, learn how many rupees to pay a rickshaw driver, get a little sleep, get some traction - those sorts of things. Unfortunately, after about 2 days in Cochin, my traction translated to efforts to manage my time in India, or rather, to avoid the unknown - Hah! I came up with, I think, five different plans for "what next" - and with each new plan I tried to get the pieces (reservations, transportation, etc.) to line up according to my will. With each plan, roadblocks flew up. Either I wouldn't be able to find information, or I would be told it was very expensive, very dirty, very unsafe, or some other "very" that took the wind out of my sails for that particular plan. I found a couple of telephone numbers that looked like good leads, but then there was the whole difficulty of finding a phone -(not simple) - and talking over the phone to someone who probably didn't speak great English - or if they did I would have trouble understanding the accent. I kept puffing myself up for the new effort and the more I puffed, the less things flowed.
All of this was going on and then was mirrored back to me by a thumbnail sketch of the dynamic yesterday when Eli and I were headed to a performance of Katchikali - traditional Kerala dance. We had our Plan in Hand. But as we headed to the usually very easy to find venue, we got lost and were unable to find our way to the theatre. There were massive numbers of people thronging the streets, waiting for the New Year parade to come through. Every time we asked directions to Katchikali, a helpful smiling person would point in a direction that was vague and the opposite direction of the previous person, and they would, with great warm-heartedness, wish us a Happy New Year. And so we would wander some more in this sea of happy people.
Then the parade started coming through. It was WONDERFUL. I actually cried with happiness. It was at that moment, when the tears came, that I remembered "how to be" when travelling - (and when living a life well lived life). It is to let myself be invited by grace, to allow myself to be drawn by the current of what is. In this case a wonderful celebration was "thwarting" my ability to go to a dance performance that we could see the next day just as easily. I remembered also - in that moment of being "lost" in an ocean of happy people, of how much grace always supported me in my travels in my 20's - Amazing grace was always with me - so many remarkable things happened that could not have happened if I had been on a set schedule and plan.
Within 20 minutes of this double aha we sat down near a British family who were quite extending - asking us where we were from and so on. And then they proceeded to tell us how much they had enjoyed their stay at Ammachi's ashram. Well! Going to Ammachi's Ashram was the new idea that had been sending a tiny shoot up in my mind - hadn't gotten nearly big enough for me to have jumped on it and started making big plans. And in the space of a few minutes the British family told us everything we would need to know - transportation logistics, details about what was available there in terms of bedding, etc. - all the little things that it can literally take a day or more. in India, to try to figure out when working against the flow of grace.
So we're off - into the fluid unknown (that's Eli's term)....I am full of gratitude and amazement.