Resilience in 100 Degree Heat

It’s been a while since I wrote a post. I’ve been traveling quite a bit the last few weeks (including a hellish 12 hour layover in the New Delhi airport that was mostly spent in a little holding cell area), but also it has been too hot to write blog posts. That is not an overly dramatic statement, it has been too hot to do anything the past 6 weeks in Bangalore. I’ve been living with hundreds of layers of my own sweat covering every inch of my body; every time I try to shower and wash them all off, they have reappeared by the time I finish toweling myself dry. At night I have literally dreamed about trying to squeeze myself into my tiny fridge and today I went the grocery store just to stand still in front of the air conditioning vent for 30 minutes.

I’m officially 4 months into my time here with 2 months left to go and the extreme heat and Delhi Airport Incident remind me that India keeps me on my toes. Just when I think I’m settling into a comfortable little pattern for life here, there is always some new challenge waiting around the corner to spice things up. As I sit here sweating and writing, hating the parts of my skin that are touching the sticky leather of my couch, it’s easy to forget that I signed up for all these challenges. In the middle of 6 months in India it’s easy to forget that these challenges are good for me, that they are growing me into a stronger, more resilient person.

I knew that moving to India meant I would be forgoing all comfort and ease for six months and I knew that moving to India meant that every single day I would be faced with everything that is different from me. Every day I would be interacting with people who look differently, speak differently, think differently, act differently, and eat differently. I knew I would be facing situations that just don’t make sense to me and frustrate me and I knew I would find myself in situations that I simply don’t know how to handle.

And sure enough, all of these things happen to me on a daily basis here. And sure enough, they are uncomfortable and challenging and just plain hard sometimes. But at the end of everyday I’m still here, living, breathing, and sweating in India. For four months I’ve lived in this place that is so different from everything I’m used to and managed to handle everything it has thrown at me. The chaos, the heat, the traffic, the daily power outages, the random people sleeping in random areas at random times; all of these things have stopped being foreign and strange and have become my normal.

Google defines resilient as “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions”. I think that is a pretty good definition of the biggest character trait that living in India has developed in me. But I like to think that India has made me a bigger person. I feel like I take up more space in the world; like I can handle more, I know more, I feel more, I experience more. All of this stuff has made me, my life, and my experiences bigger and broader and better.

So I sit here sweating and in the dark because the power went out about 10 minutes ago, thinking about all of the things I have to do and the challenges that lay ahead. But I choose not to sit in dread or resentment of these challenges because 1. it would be awful to stew in negative emotions for the next two months, 2. I signed up for this, and 3. these challenges are building me up in bigger and better ways than I can even understand in my current heat stupor.

Some homework for anyone who bothers to read this blog post all the way through: For 30 seconds today sit and reflect in gratitude for good and reliable internet, electricity, and air conditioning. These things are not to be taken for granted. Also for a full minute, sit and reflect in gratitude that life is challenging and uncomfortable and at the same time spectacular and full of adventure.