As I slowly slipped along freshly muddy Himalayan pathways, all dreams I’d harboured – of home, love, family, music, and peace to all beings - any misstep, would ensure everything plunging altogether into a raging, rocky waterfall, before gushing out to the ferocious Parvati River and, eventually, the sea. The cliff-edge foot-wide trail was further inhibited by another unhelpful mountain dog, who was perplexed at firm English commands of “Turn around!” or insistent prodding on her back. Under the mist of falling rain, the vague pathway ahead disappeared, rising up, narrower through bushes; sharp, slippery and muddy, towards a frothing waterfall. What if I must come down? I couldn’t risk it, not with well-worn running shoes and an increasing urgency to navigate out of the anonymous mountain jungle, before drenching downpour and looming darkness.
There is no pedestal for ego with life at stake. Bravado will impress neither puzzled mountain dogs nor the swamp and forest below; perhaps nothing more than a wooden tribute in remembrance. There was no reason for added risks, particularly with more to come: on this trek and in life itself.
With a deep breath, I firmly nudged the dog around; her paws begrudgingly latched on a small ridge. I delicately tiptoed past, and made my way down. Slowly, surely, along a clearer route; a narrow bridge across another waterfall led onto the next majestic mountain. In fact, the view was even more dazzling from the opposite side, along higher cliffs. Wild marijuana plants blossomed in abundance, and the river rumbled mercifully further below, yet every slippy step remained basked in steadfast concentration.
Responsible inner voices warn us of risk and danger: from people, places or circumstances. Think back to your own particularly “lucky breaks”: close calls, millimetres from disaster, encountering somebody in the nick of time, or a window that opened after all others clattered shut. Any of those manifesting would have diverted our paths, if not ended things entirely.
My probable life trajectory was not looking good. There were numerous clear occasions when I could have been arrested, imprisoned, beaten, frozen to death, or succumbed to dark forces, but extraordinary luck granted me enough chances to turn my life around. The more often we put ourselves in risky or unpleasant situations: the higher probability of bad things happening. Consequently, the inverse is also correct. Through this, we inherently hold reasonable control over our destinies.
Everything Is Possible… and Has Happened
“According to quantum theory, the universe doesn’t just have a unique single history. Instead the universe has every single possible history, each with its own probability.”
- Stephen Hawking, Brief Answers to the Big Questions
Quantum theory nominates, that for nothing to be possible, everything must be possible. Through this premise in the universe’s creation, even the most inconceivable actuality has occurred somewhere, within infinite quantum histories. If every possibility is conceivable and has happened, then why not align ourselves along the paths that lead to our chosen destinations?
Beyond the fury and aura of the universe remains inexplicable powers. Critical interventions in the nick of time? Waking moments before nearby cars collide? An instinctive commando fall and roll away from an onrushing train? Following an inclination to move safer into the hills, hours before nationwide terrorist attacks? A final lap around a quarry, before crossing paths with a seemingly pre-destined soul?
While philosophers ruminate, scientists are expected to uncover many of the universe’s remaining secrets by the end of this century. Many issues will be aided by the coming revolution of quantum computing. Researchers will be able to input all of the vastly available data about everything – even if seemingly unrelated – into quantum computers, and generate solutions. For example, scenarios that might halt climate change, international drug and human trafficking, and global terrorism.
It’s one matter to theorise about mind-boggling concepts, and another to experience them. Plentiful chance encounters in my lifetime manifested from improving my odds, simply by putting myself out there. Seemingly inconsequential decisions, like where to stay or chill, return home or head somewhere, uncovered magical dimensions. Frequent clues and openings are handily observable, that can assist in architecting major shifts in our lifestyles, workplaces and relationships. With even reluctant acceptance of the science of the universe, its powers and mystique are abundant everywhere, and can be applied to everything: Travel, life and dreams.
The Power and Poignancy of Flexibility
The less commitments one holds, the more open plans become. Having a fully flexible schedule, with the ability to work from anywhere, lends to further possibilities. Travel organically evolves matrices of ideas. The traditional “return ticket” takes us somewhere, perhaps stopping along the way; stay a while, then home. Finite side adventures are available from a base; however, dates and locales are set. Locked-in milestones, including festivals, weddings, conferences and visa expiry deadlines, necessitate diligent planning. They provide the inherent convenience of establishing a sequence of events that trigger the crafting of larger journeys. For instance, a recent Sri Lanka visit came from a friend’s wedding invitation. When I was asked to speak at a conference in Delhi, it crafted the premise of a three-month trip. Fly into India, reach Sri Lanka for the wedding two months later, and for everything else: Go with the flow.
Way more adventurous, are one-way trips. Arrive at a locale, then figure out details accordingly. Fly into one country, out from another, shifting continents as inspired. Without return flights, devoid of commitments anywhere, and the freedom to come off one’s path, even a little, the focus turns to one leg at a time. Check the vibe, and adapt as appropriate. Truly enjoy each moment; tomorrow will come. We learn that the journey is what’s most important, in just about everything. Sometimes we find a place we love, and stay a while, or resolve to return. Often, there comes a clear inclination to move on.
Sometimes The Best Laid Plans… Don’t Happen
All the apparent plans in the world mean nothing if circumstances prevent their happening. The actuality of this trip, that I remain upon three-plus years later, was nothing how I originally envisioned. It wasn’t the one I longed for after the conclusion of last year: depressed, confused, my heart literally aching after a hospital heart attack scare, broke and broken in a cold semi-detached bungalow, forcing a “normal” routine back in grey and costly Australia.
My original travel plans were bold and, in the end, untenable. Multiple parallel realities would have enabled my debut exploration of Alice Springs and a return to southern Africa, simply if I had enough money. With even modestly extra cashflow I’d have attended the 2017 Solar Eclipse Festival in Oregon, then Burning Man. I’d undoubtedly have travelled in alternate circles, and been in a different relationship with other demands and needs. Crucially, I’d unlikely have struggled through the necessary growth and spiritual awakening that emerged early in 2018, that saved my life in many ways.
Several devastating heartbreaks, multiple near-death experiences, homeless periods, money stress and strife? I wouldn’t change a thing. This is how my life played out, as it was. Our paths can be guided in unforeseen directions – even if at the time we don’t know what it all means.
By living in the moment, while consistently working towards milestones in the future, life is regularly enthralling, captivating and real. It provides necessary purpose to endure. It is within reach of anybody with passion, a dream and the commitment to make things happen, irrespective of money, entitlement or experience. It requires summoning some courage to take the first steps, prepare diligently, and venture into the unknown, staying open and ready for everything.
Take Opportunities Presented
Every single decision – right, wrong, risky or seemingly inconsequential – precedes the next, and onward, ad infinitum. The nagging voice in our heads usually speaks with reason, although listening every time would itself drastically shift our course. Everything sets up for what comes next.
Clues might appear in the form of a mid-winter “Help Wanted” window sign, while living rough on the streets, freezing and starving. Frequently, there are invitations that open new creative horizons – “What might the North have to offer?” - or hunches towards unexpected relationships. The voice can be blunt: “Danger!” and should not be ignored. Our survival instincts guide us along, although ego stokes peril, rolling against chance. On the occasions we think we know better than our subconscious, these are often met with instant karma.
Sometimes it feels the universe wills us towards pre-destined directions, offering numerous detours to pursue, and yet we arrive at the same place. Constantly diminishing “luck” fuels downward spirals, saps confidence and spawns further errors. Nobody is to blame. Maybe we’re not ready, or old habits rumble us away from bliss. At some point, the cycle will be broken, whether we do it ourselves, or require more drastic intervention. Awareness of – and action upon – daily clues, like a puzzle or maze, brings us closer toward our destiny. At the very least, we might blindly but assuredly stumble into transient magic and adventure, grateful for the moment, in knowing that nothing lasts forever.
We’re irrepressibly lucky that any of us are alive. When we become down on life, mull The End, or lack authentic enthusiasm for anything, start with being appreciative for our little living window of time on Earth. While we’re here, make the most of it. Steer towards the direction desired, and enjoy the ride. Anything can happen. Everything has.