By Yujia Chen
We traveled. We ate. We slept.
What I felt:
What is the best society? This is a question I have been seeking the answer to since the beginning of the trip. When we went to the Andaman Islands, I lay on the hammock and gazed at the turquoise color sea and asked. When we took a long and crazy ride on crowded rickshaws and arrived at a village in the tropical forest, I asked. And when we hiked up into the remote community in the Himalayas, looking at the colorful houses up on the hills, i asked again and again. How do you define success? How do you define poverty and wealth? How do you define happiness?
It is hilarious to me that we are desperately in search of material wealth because we think it will bring us happiness. In truth, happiness is often found in minor matters – simple beauty is the most memorable one. People in both small communities we visited, the one on the Andaman Islands and the one in the Himalayas, were very affable to each other and us. They seldom lock their front door and never need to worry about safety in the community. No police stations, no crime. Isn’t that the true measure of a perfect society, friendliness and safety? We introduced currency, policy, politics, education, and everything just so the community could be like this. Then we started to compare all the values that we created and forgot what our original intention was.
So, what is success? Aren’t people in the village, who are not involved in our “luxurious” world and staying away from the cycle of endless competition and eagerness toward fame, successful? They live life with ease and are surrounded by family and friendly neighbors. They are happy! Then what else do they need? We may be more successful materials because that is how we define happiness, but the truth is that the more we have, the more we are spiritually empty. Then what does wealth count for?
But why then, as the population grows, as a small community turns into a big one, do people become bad? Why are people in more developed areas greedy, competitive and mean? And why do people with those characters find “success” in our system? What is wrong with this world?
I do not know.
As we drove away from the mountain and immersed ourselves in the chaos of New Delhi and urban India, everyone was quiet. Standing under the neon sign of our hotel, where the trip began, our feelings were completely different from two weeks before. We no longer complained about the squalid conditions of the streets – instead, it felt that every second here is priceless. Yes, the trip into the heart of India is over, yet the lessons it taught us will follow us wherever we go. The questions we asked ourselves, again and again, will still linger in our minds, waiting to be answered.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss