The Difference Between Seeing & Shopping

Looking at the map of India now is accompanied by a sense of vertigo. I locate the dot that is Dharamsala. Its excessive, exotic northernliness shocks me every single time. My eyes slip down then, down, down, down, all the way to where familiar Madurai nestles at the almost-tip of the country. I am dizzied by the distance. How far we’ve traveled from home.

I remember yoga teacher Rajiv talking about gravity. How people, places, things all exert an invisible force on us. How we whirl about largely unaware of being impelled by these energies. In this frothy, fascinating town of hungry travelers I think of his words. Because everywhere there is something alien and bright that catches the eye. Such an array of glittering trinkets and talismans in charmingly crooked stalls with charmingly crooked salesmen.  The shallow lure of the bargain casts colorful lines into the streets, ready to reel you in. So much here is delightful distraction. I notice it on the third day – the fact that even though I am simply walking down this lane to our lunchtime café, my eyes are shopping. There is a difference between seeing with your eyes and shopping with them.  The difference between looking at say a Tibetan singing bowl, without agenda. Reveling in the shining, smooth curve of it, its hidden and sacred vibrations. And looking at it through the shadowy veil of wanting, wondering idly how much it costs, where you would put it in your home, whether it would make a nice gift and for whom.  I realize with a start, that I certainly do not want to be shopping when I am not shopping.

It is a small shift, but a significant one. Soon after I begin to notice too, that as the alignment with the writing process deepens, the gravitational pull of the surface weakens. The closer I stay to the intention of this time, the more old, consumerist tendencies within begin to fall away. As we walk through it I rejoice in the color and the clamor of the bazaar but its vines and tendrils don’t entwine me in quite the same way.  “There are gravities within that are far stronger than anything without,” Rajiv’s words again…

Recently I have found myself wanting to simplify our externals even further. To stay somewhere truly set apart and humble. We have lived in some perfectly lovely rooms this past week but I am wishing now I realize for something more rugged, less discovered. Through an unexpected set of circumstances yesterday we found ourselves needing to find another place to stay for tonight… more than half a dozen places we checked in with were booked solid. Until a random phone call landed us with this perfect arrangement for the next couple of days: An igloo tent on the lawn of a little cottage higher in the hills than a taxi can take us. We must walk the last leg to get there. An intriguing set of directions are handed to us that end like this:

“The trail will lead you on a five minute walk through big rocks, then you will see first our neighbor’s house and a small Temple, right behind you will reach your destiny.”

All right then 🙂 Destiny — here we come.

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One thought on “The Difference Between Seeing & Shopping

  1. Shalini says:

    Pavi, all your entiries about Dharamsala bring back such vivid & delighful memories for me. I am there with you!
    Thanks for writing!

    Love to both of you!

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