Daring Adventure

By Sophie Scott

Throughout our trip, a good rule of thumb is to use your phone as little as possible. You don’t want to miss the perplexing pace of the city street (or get hit by a motorbike carrying a woman nursing her baby in the process) nor the beauty of the plains outside the bus window. Still, I’ve been keeping steady contact with my parents. Yesterday my dad sent me a quote he read that morning. It said: “Life is a daring adventure or nothing.”

Daring denotes things strange, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable, all things I usually try to avoid. So as we drove through Delhi the second day, I sat considering why this new city felt so uncomfortable. I realized it was because as an American, I’m accustomed to order over disorder.

In my Biblical theology class the week before I set out for India, Father Scott explained the distinctions between order and disorder in the Bible, the former uplifted over the latter. While I didn’t grow up particularly religious, as a western person I was certainly shaped by this way of thought. I like things to make sense and to be reliable, which is the way I think of life in the U.S. But here, there’s what the teachers call “Indian Magic.” It’s when something that seems dangerous, impossible, or bizarre simply works out. It’s when what’s wrong is made right. Perfected disorder.

It’s why when we were driving in our Jeeps to safari yesterday, going around a bend in the road directly at an oncoming car, I didn’t hold my breath or clutch the railings. I knew it would work out fine. There hasn’t been a seat belt to wear since I got off the plane (sorry Mom and Dad), and after the first rickshaw ride in Old Delhi I stopped looking for something to buckle each time I sat down. It’s because within the disorder, the Indian Magic made me trust what was uncomfortable. Ms. Showalter summarized that shift in trust in a few words during our bonfire last night: “Be awake, take care of yourself, and do what makes sense.”

Yesterday was the first day I felt completely at home. I had a moment, as I sat rocking on the back of a camel down the street, where I thought, Oh…I understand why people come back two, three times on this trip. I feel protected by our Christchurch chaperones, loved by my new friend, Madhu, exhilarated by my natural and unnatural surroundings. I thought, this is what it’s like to have a daring adventure.

6 thoughts on “Daring Adventure

  1. What a beautifully composed and written post. I think you’ve reached an important conclusion about order, disorder and culture. Some of us are culturally wired for order and have a hard time adjusting to disorder and letting things flow. But I had never heard the term Indian Magic, which is a great way to put a positive spin on the glorious chaos or India. When you can “chill” on top of a camel, I’d say you’ve probably hit some sort of new level of consciousness!

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  2. Oh Sophie…Your post just blew me away! Outstanding!!! I loved the flow of your piece; the way you tied all your recent experiences together – your dad’s quote, what Father Scott taught and then what your teachers called Indian Magic. You will see that “magic” in action throughout your Indian adventure and, hopefully, throughout your life. It’s also called trust and faith!

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  3. What beautiful insight you have found Sophie. Thank you so much for sharing. Perhaps there is no disorder – only to our “unenlightened” Western senses. You are tuning into the rhythm of a new culture which will make this trip super sensible and fun. Congratulations!

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  4. Sophie, this is a really sweet post! As someone who appreciates the evidence-based safety regulations at work in the US and indeed the west, I also found the Indian way of doing things a challenge at first. It’s easy to say, “this would be safer if…,” but the fact is of course that there’s no point in traveling afar if you’re only going to keep looking for ways it could be more like the land you left behind. Thanks so much for sharing, and of course for the shout out to Ms Showalter, definitely one of my favorite chaperones on the trip…

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