My Last Vacation Taught Me about How to Live in The moment

23rd Jan 2021

Kudle Beach: Photo by author

Photo of My Last Vacation Taught Me about How to Live in The moment by Shruthi Sundaram

Gokarna is an Indian coastal beauty situated on the Arabian sea. It is a small town in Karnataka (state) and is also a place of holy worship for many Hindus. The best part? It is a perfect blend of mountains and sea since it is situated on the Western Ghats of India.

The town itself is a small one and has only become popular in recent times due to foreign tourists looking for a silent place to relax, as an alternative for Goa. Goa is another coastal area of India situated 50 km from Gokarna. It becomes very crowded and commercialized, as large crowds visit every New year to attend the infamous parties. Therefore, Gokarna acts as the peaceful version of Goa.

My husband and I visited the place in January for our anniversary after getting cooped up at home for a whole year. Before COVID, we used to go on vacations at least once or twice every quarter, so this trip was a way of releasing our travel frustrations.

To explain to you what the article is about, I have to explain how I was before…

For as long as I can remember, I was a meticulous planner during traveling. Probably it was ingrained in my brain by my mom, who always said to me, “If you just wanted to sleep, you could have done it at home. Why pay so much and come here?!”.

My family was always particular about not missing out on anything when visiting a place. Also, they never believed in revisiting a place.

We used to plan what places to visit and when. We even tried to optimize the travel time after checking out for directions. I cannot deny that I loved the planning and having a system.

This system worked out for me perfectly until I got married. Then came my husband, who brought up the concept of, “This is a vacation. You have to chill. If you wanted to have a hectic life, we could have stayed at home, isn’t it?”. I was so confused! Chilling? Isn’t it another name for sitting around all day doing nothing?

Poor him. Because of this mentality, I used to drag him around and force him to be a part of my “checklist.” He hated it, but I didn’t want to leave out any of the tourist locations I had planned for. After about a year of getting married, we finally came to the deal where he and I used to plan alternate days.

For all single people out there, please make sure that your travel preferences match before you get into a relationship :-)

Paradise Beach, Gokarna

Photo of Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Shruthi Sundaram

Coming back to the present…

We had booked our beachside resort in Gokarna for 5 days. It was a totally unplanned trip since I booked the bus tickets and hotel only a week or two before the actual trip. Yes, this was “unplanned” for me since I usually book everything months before.

I was also busy with work commitments. Therefore, I was not able to plan the trip as I wanted to. This became a blessing in disguise.

I went entirely unprepared for the trip. Only after going there did I realize that there are not many touristy places to see. And most of the sightseeing places were pretty far away. The WIFI also was not great. So it was not like I could watch movies all day.

Now, what was I supposed to do for 5 days? I had to “Chill”!!!

We did go out during the day for some time, for the first 2 to 3 days of the trip. I felt so uncomfortable, thinking I am literally not doing anything! It felt like I was wasting time there. I became very restless. I did see many people sitting inside multiple shacks near the resort, just staring at the sea for hours, but I never understood how they did it.

The sea was beautiful, mind you, but how much could you stare at it?!

The last 3 days of the trip completely changed my life. I would even say that it was the best trip ever! Why?

Because I calmed down and chilled out :-)

I started to see the beauty in everything. The sound of the waves, the beauty of the shells we picked out, the sun’s reflection on the water, the gorgeous sunset, the silence, the peace and calm surrounding me, everything.

I started to live in the present. I realized how to live in the present.

I craved for each of the things mentioned above every day. I yearned to have conversations with different people there, whether tourists, hotel staff, or even our waiter. I found an immense sense of calm when I wrote down my thoughts, listening to the sound of waves.

Usually, writing down on paper used to make me feel restless. I always preferred typing since I was faster at it. I did face this restlessness initially, but after some time, it was therapeutic, almost like meditation. It was beautiful.

In the 5 days I stayed there, I became more aware of my surroundings. The feel of warm sun on your face while the chilly winds were blowing, birds’ sounds, the expressions of people when they spoke to others…I became more conscious of the small things, which we fail to appreciate due to our hectic lives.

It might seem very philosophical. But, I started to think, what is the point of always running if I do not get the time to sit and just exist? If I am not able to appreciate the things around me?

Sunset at Kudle Beach, Gokarna

Photo of My Last Vacation Taught Me about How to Live in The moment by Shruthi Sundaram

What is “chilling” for me now?

It is appreciating the present and not being always held up in your past or future. It is letting life pass as it is without putting any pressure on it to fasten up. It is enjoying and being grateful for what you have instead of continually searching for what you do not have.

This realization probably came because I was put into a corner (figuratively) with nothing else to do. I don’t think I would have ever experienced this peace without being forced to not do anything.

What can you do?

Go away to someplace for a minimum of 3 days, where you do not have anything to see. Where you do not have WIFI or access to any gadget. Preferably on the sea or mountains. In between nature.

This will make you appreciate nature and your surroundings more. Instead of pulling out your phone and clicking selfies/photos as an instinctive reaction, you will learn to experience nature more too.

I will always be grateful for my Gokarna experience for this lesson. I cried on the last day because I did not want to leave that place. I thought if I left Gokarna, I would lose the peace that came with it too. Thankfully that did not happen.

Somehow, after the trip, I have tried to incorporate the “chilling” factor in my everyday life. Nowadays, I just go to my terrace without my phone/iPad to just sit and watch the sky: the patterns and the color. You should do it sometime too. It is beautiful.

Originally published here.