Parent:”In India one shouldn’t cycle. The traffic is too risky”
Me:”in India one shouldn’t do a lot of things cause it is too risky for eg: crossing the roads”
*parent agrees whole-heartedly*
From a long time I have been noticing that social acceptance makes people FEEL SAFE. Note that it only makes them feel safe, even if they aren’t.
Sadhguru often in his programs would give an anecdote, even if there was a dinosaur standing right behind you waiting to pounce on you – as long as you don’t know about it, you will feel safe. (And happy).
A similar false sense of safety is created by social acceptance.
Solo Woman Travelling
Since I prefer impromptu travel over planned stuff, I have solo traveled a lot in over-night volvos. Not the usual transport choice especially for solo women but surprisingly, almost every time, I have found there is another solo woman traveling from her married house to moms house, college to home or for some social function. This slowly becomes a common routine for her, every few months she will make these kind of trips. She feels safe.
The same parents or husband or the woman herself may find the concept of solo travel bizarre but give her a socially accepted situation and she will be traveling on her own. She will even travel solo with her infant child.
The cocoon of social acceptance makes them feel safe.
Socially Accepted Activities Are Often Unsafe!
I remember when I had a social media marketing company it was very normal for me to go out and meet new clients. Often the client office maybe in areas I have never visited, they could be in run down malls where other offices are closed or industrial estates and on rare occasions even residential buildings.
Being a Gujarati, running a business is quite accepted and normal. Even encouraged. So how come I am indulging in something I find risky as part of a normal activity? I wouldn’t even inform my parents about where I was headed nor was there a major check done about the area I am venturing into. Checking the Linkedin profile of the person doesn’t really clarify whether he is a violent person. And I don’t even know whether there will be another woman in that office. A lot of small startup offices are very easily all male.
Compare this to a solo travel journey where,
1) the area has been researched well specifically with regards women safety
2) parents / friends are well informed about my whereabouts, itinerary etc…
3) accommodation has been checked out including taking reference from other solo women travellers
4) considering I am solo traveling I will take all necessary precautions like NOT entering random office or apartments
Given all the various precautions taken and the fact that I would be more alert and attentive in a new place – I think solo travel is often safer than many other activities undertaken by the normal urban girl in India.
And yet the cocoon of social acceptance makes you think otherwise.
I cannot live in these falsehoods. And spirituality demands that I seek for the truth. And so more and more I am looking deeper into this sense of safety. And more and more I am overwhelmed with this feeling that the only true safety is in the spiritual fire burning in my heart. It is in shedding all falsehoods and lies that I keep telling myself as part of the social process, as part of creating a sense of comfort around me. A sense of comfort that is only psychologically numbing and allows me to be dumb.
If women in this society and also their friends and relatives are to be straight with themselves then they have to learn to live with the fact that they are always at risk.
The reason most people create the cocoon of falsehood around themselves is because they find it too hard to accept that you are always at risk. But it is a fundamental truth of life and in societies like India is a very prevalent truth that keeps showing itself everywhere.
There is a high chance that we would be hit by a vehicle (probably coming from the wrong side) when crossing the Indian road. It may feel very harsh and brutal a reality – but it is the truth! And honestly if everyone were to embrace this reality then maybe we would all be more considerate of each other and the roads might actually improve.
But instead people go about it like it is normal and mundane activity. An activity sanctioned by their parents, their friends, everyone around them. So it dumbs down the feeling of risk you should be experiencing every time you cross that road.
The reason the risk needs to be dumbed down is because psychologically people will become paranoid or even crazy because they are not able to just accept it. Some basic amount of sadhana and spiritual practice is needed which allows you to accept this fundamental truth of life that life is insecure. And yet remain balanced in the mind.
And then it can become a strong spiritual exercise, one where you are reminded of your mortality .
As Dalai Lama says,
“It is crucial to be mindful of death — to contemplate that you will not remain long in this life.”Read this further
And what better place than India to be mindful of death.
So I can with gusto indulge in stuff I love to do which may also be risky but usually it is less risky than socially accepted Indian life.
And at all times let only the spiritual fire in my heart be strong and nourish me till the very end. Because in it alone lies the least risk. It allows me to treat each moment of life well. Death will anyway come.