I look for heroes amongst celebrity or spiritual teachers – but the inspiration I need comes from the most unlikely places sometimes. Here’s one of them. And here’s why:
After a decade of being too afraid to step out of the house, my 71-year-old mother spontaneously decided last month she wanted to travel alone to an ashram in Rishikesh – a six-hour flight away. We were initially hesitant: she had barely ever travelled to her sister’s house an hour away alone and she was sometimes seized by panic in crowded places. But her energy was so clear and undivided about it, we booked her tickets and stay. On the day of her flight, I wrote a ‘Boarding A Flight in 3 Easy Steps’ note for her (she had never traveled alone in an airplane before).
During her time at the ashram, she sounded happier than she has ever been. She called us daily. Her depression, a lifelong companion, had lifted. She went for walks, meditated and sat on the Ganges riverbank every evening. One evening, she told us she had shaved off her head – and that she thought the look suited her!
Ten days into her stay, she was supposed to move to a Nature Cure Centre. Despite confirming a booking twice telephonically, they did not have a room for her when she arrived. When we phoned the owner, he slammed down the phone saying he was too busy in a meeting and didn’t have time for this. We felt angry and helpless, being thousands of miles away. Mum, on the other hand, took matters in her own hands – she had made friends with two American women at the ashram and moved into a guesthouse with them. While we made alternative arrangements, she called us to say don’t worry. She joked that she had decided she wanted to have her all her long-pending adventures on this trip.
Two weeks later, she returned home with a sunny smile and gifts for everyone. But the biggest gift she gave us was the lesson that you are never too old to step out of your comfort zone.