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Fifteen years ago, before social media, I wandered into a small theater in Portland, OR, where they were showing a documentary called What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? It featured Dr. Amit Goswami, a quantum physicist professor from UCLA who had scientifically concluded that we are all connected. He states that if we could let go of our egos, quiet our minds, and open our hearts, then we would have heaven on earth. He concludes that we are all Gods, connected by a hive mind of consciousness, and along with the laws of quantum physics he determines that it is our collective consciousness that creates our reality.
Fifteen years ago, after walking into this small theater in Portland, OR, my view on my reality was changed forever, and it set me on a course to study quantum theory and the power of connection.
Ten years after watching that movie, after many hours of study and practice in quantum healing and theory, I decided to move to India. While preparing to leave, I read everything I could get my hands on about going. I remember reading this silly article about how to become a famous yoga teacher.
It read Step 1: Go to India, even if you just fly there, touch your toe on the land, and then get back on the plane. Step 2: Create a social media following, and honestly, I can't remember the rest of the steps.
My goal was not to be a famous yoga teacher and I was already on my way to India. I was definitely planning on doing way more than touching my toe to the land, but I did not have much of active social media life. Reluctantly, I started an Instagram account and started to engage more on my Facebook account. I started out with sporadic post and then found that being in a foreign country, all the way around the world, the connection over social media became my lifeline. The more active I became, the more responsive my followers became. I received messages every day from followers that read: "I wake up every morning looking forward to your post. It's like a novel in which I cant wait to turn the pages. Thank you for sharing." Or, "I am a mom of four kids and I have never gotten to travel, so watching your post, allow me to live a little through you." "You are such an inspiration," and so on and so on. So I posted and wrote my way through my months in India.
PassionatePathCoach Instagram post: "We have left #Pondicherry and we are heading south to #trichy. Colorful buses that read 'happy' and are adorned with Godly names like 'Ganesh' and 'Lakshmi' lead us into the spice fields. Lush green marshes where women in colorful garments squat in the hot southern sun to pick specs of rice to feed other people's families. They live in one room grass huts, their conditions are so bad, yet they are happy. They are very spiritual people and take every day as it comes. I can only send them my #love and #compassion and walk gently through their fertile mother #India."
Dr. Cal Newport recently gave a Ted Talk titled Quit Social Media where he explained the addicted and fragmented culture that social media is cultivating. He also mentioned that businesses do not need a "social media following" to be successful and suggested that when we disconnect from this false connection and reconnect into out hive-minded soul connection then success in your life, love, and business will flourish. I agree with Dr. Newport, I really do, but like any practice, we must take things in moderation. I mention this because it was my connection to my social media followers that would end up saving my life in a foreign country.
PassionatePathCoach Instagram post: "It's hard to sleep in #India. My internal clock has not adjusted to the time change. I am up at all hours of the morning. This particular morning in #Pondicherry, a friend and I were walking into the morning streets. Just early enough to watch the sunrise over the Bay of Bengal. As the sun broke through the horizon the town came alive. Bustling streets, chai wallas every few feet, temples smelling of sandalwood and ghee, and we were in the thick of it. Crossing the street in India is an art form. We are learning to just step out and become one with the fluidity of the chaos, but every once in awhile a herd of water buffaloes throws you off your game."
One of my adventures led me to convoy with some of the most amazing people. We traveled to Arambol, Goa. A place where the beaches meet the jungles, surrounded in black cliffs, in which set the village. I was laying on a beach with my fellow travelers, a stylist from London and the other, an ex-pat that has lived in India for over 20 years, only going back to London when he needs to make money and renew his visa. We had a conversation about how they make their money to come back to India all the time.
The ex-pat said, "You have to think about what your people would want back home, buy it here and sell it there." It was this conversation and the connection with these people that would help me go from having $1.60 USD to $4,000 in 48 hours.
After months of traveling from The Himalayan mountains to the beaches of southern India. After hundreds of social media posts of the good, the wretched, the amazing, and the weary, I found myself at the end of this adventure. The monsoon was coming and the thick humid air mingled into the crowded 120 degrees, polluted city of New Delhi. Most days I would take refuge in my hotel room. Enjoying an almost working air conditioner, fighting against the one and only broken window pane that overlooked the chaotic Par Ganj, the wholesalers' district, in the old town.
I spent the last of my reserve money to purchase my plane ticket back to the US, I secured a hotel for the last two weeks I would be in Delhi and treated myself to a few lovely days of city living. Then I checked my bank account. I was shocked! I was down to my last 90 rupees (about $1.60 in USD). I laid there in my hotel room, the cracked window pane allowed wafts of India spices to flood my room, and the bustle of the wholesalers' district below bounded off the crowded buildings in this market area. I divided the $1.60 up into days. One very cheap meal could cost me 20 rupees, the exchange rate at that time was 66 rupees to the American dollar, that would allow me to have one meal per day for the next five days. I thought about how I could walk to the airport. I walked all over this country, why not 12 more miles to the airport? I laid, defeated, on my bed, looking at my cracked and worn iPhone five, flipping through Instagram and Facebook. Reading the new messages that had come in that day. I took the time to answer them. It was an invited excuse to ignore my current situation.
Message after message, followers, and friends inspired and excited by my travels, wishing they could join me, wanting to know how they could do this journey, waiting to see what was next. One after another. They all craved for the freedom that I was portraying and that they were so connected to over the last year. Then it hit me. "Give them what they want. Give them a piece of India." I sat up in bed and made my most important post of the trip.
"48 HOUR SALE! YOU HAVE FOLLOWED ME THROUGH INDIA. NOW I WILL SEND YOU A PIECE OF IT. PLACE YOUR ORDERS TODAY. 48 HOURS ONLY!"
Immediately I got responses saying "I want one!!", "These are awesome," and, "How can I pay?" The orders flooded in and the next day I went into the depths of the Par Ganj, haggling with old shop keepers, digging through piles of India items. I picked out the things that I thought my followers would like, haggled in the heat for a price point, took pictures of OM scarfs, Leather belts, Turkish style pillowcases, purses with embroidered Ganeshas, incense holders, and more. The trips into the market could only be done in short spurts, the heat was too much. The temperatures were rising into the high 130s. Small breaks from the streets, I would go back to my hotel room, upload the pictures with a fair price to my social media following. I had a notebook where I kept a log of customized orders, colors, quantities for each individual person, and shipping addresses.
Forty-eight hours spent in the hot dusty alley of The Par Ganj, I had over 50 followers place orders with me. They transferred the money via Paypal. I kept in touch with them over Facebook Messenger. I sent updates of the whole process. They loved it. They loved they interconnections that they could have with this moment. When the 48 hours were over, all the packages were lugged to the post office, put through tedious bureaucratic processes, and shipped.
PassionatePathCoach Instagram post:
"Shipping out of India:
Step 1: find the man on the corner of a New Delhi street, somewhere in the vicinity of the post office. There are no signs, but he will have his needle and thread.
Step 2: haggle a price
Step 3: watch him as he senselessly beats your package until it fits in his premade cloth bag.
Step 4: watch him take chai break, pee breaks and chat with his friends while intermittently sewing up your package
Step 5: watch him sew a photocopy of your passport (with that horrible picture) right on the front of the international package
Step 6: wait is—not a line. A chaotic cluster of people, all pushing to the counter.
Step 7: pay a ridiculous price for packages to take three weeks to get to America.
Result: some packages were sent today. Others I am carrying on the plane and sending from Seattle. They have an adversity to my 'so many packages' and continued with that lovely common Indian phrase 'not possible!' So that's that. 72 hours of shopping, shipping, and living out a long-time dream of being an import/exporter in India. What's next??
I need a glass of wine!"
Twenty-four hours of preparation, 48 hours of fulfilling orders, all the emails were answered, the packages were either shipped or packed in my luggage to fly home with me. I laid back in my bed and checked my bank account. I made $4,000 USD in 48 hours.
This would not have been possible without the constant contact and connection that social media presented. It gave my followers, the ones that couldn't have a chance to travel with me but were still connected over social media. They were able to be a part of that adventure and in the end they, and the connection we cultivated saved me.
We are all connected, social media can be a distraction and maybe it does give us a false sense of "friendship," but when it comes to traveling alone in a foreign country or just that one "like," I do not think it's that bad. Everything in moderation. Utilize it for good. Remember who your real friends are, remember that the real connection is the conscious connections that lie away from our smartphones. Know that we are so lucky, in this day and age, that we can connect, share adventures, share our talents and gifts with so many people all around the world.