This whole week I have been forced by circumstances to think about the constant tug-of-war between abundance and insufficiency. My mind has been marinating in things I have heard, read and discussed with people and I learnt quickly that I was not alone, perhaps because of the climate of our times.
In most people’s minds, there is a battle between two perspectives: abundance and lack. These are almost like two roads that we have to walk but sometimes without a choice, each giving us vastly different experiences of life.
Abundance often correlates with positivity with the core belief that there’s enough out there for everyone. By carving our niche and claiming our little successes, we are happy to bask in the realm of possibility. On the other hand, when we think from a perspective of insufficiency, we could be filled with fear and questioning. We think pessimistically, are highly attuned to what we don’t have and what won’t work, as well as the deficiencies of our situation. Everything is either black or white.
While I have been questioning so many things lately, my predominant state is that of gratitude. Abundance doesn’t come from resources alone, abundance is a mentality, no? I am reminded of the majestic waterfalls across the world, some of which I have been so fortunate to see personally. It amazes me how that much water can continuously flow at such speeds, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for thousands of years. To me, this is symbolic of a never ending abundance that can come only from a power greater than our little minds can imagine.
The natural world has a lot to teach us if we pay attention, no matter what the present circumstances feel like, it is alive and well and ongoing. My prayer for myself is that I would focus on the abundance instead of all the things that seem so far from reach. And, if you haven’t seen a waterfall, I’d like to share this one with you in the hope that it will remind you to live in an abundance mindset, no matter how difficult it might feel at the moment.
We are in a white Honda Civic, driving through a snow covered stretch of what seems to be no man’s land. Daylight has dawned and the signs of devastations that followed the end of the soviet era are scattered all over the place. I stare out of the window, beyond brown rooftops, at a white wilderness. Mt. Ararat looms over the horizon – the only sign of our location – we are traveling somewhere along the Turkish border.
Amidst the rhythmic tremble of the Honda, is the clicking noises from my phone’s camera. The subject it would like to capture is the natural beauty that runs through the Turkish-Armenian frontier but instead, the photos reveal hazy silhouettes of giant Oaks and Pines; reminding me that the real is always best remembered in my mind’s eye.
Autumn and winter are colliding during my trip to Armenia. New Cherry blossoms are budding in the capital city Yerevan; while the mountains still look like a winter wonderland. Suddenly, the car jerks to a halt and I am stirred from my morning reverie. We have reached our destination – the beautiful Tsaghkadzor woodlands along the slopes of the Tegenis.
I step out and take in the breathtaking vistas of the majestic Caucasus Mountains. I can stare for hours but my guide Shushan motions for me to catch up with her. I slip my phone into my jeans and count the number of crunches my Nike’s make in the snow before I reach where she is. Back when Armenia was part of the USSR, Soviet athletes came to Tsaghkadzor (Gorge of flowers) to train for the Winter Olympics. In-between her narrations Shushan ensures that I begin to understand the intricate historical and cultural fabric of the country and the values of the Armenian people. It is clear that she does not want me to leave without understanding those whom she represents and so a common theme runs through her narratives – resilience. Resilience in the face of changing ideologies, resilience in the face of a macabre genocide and resilience as the country walks a tightrope between tradition and modernity.
Odds are, if you are a traveler, you have met some pretty interesting people over the years. Some memories of them are fleeting while others recur. Many times, when reminiscing, the memory of the people that I have met along the way will outweigh the memories of the destination itself.
My travel personality is a polar opposite to my regular one. When I am traveling I find myself to be outgoing, lively and social; when I am confined by routine, I am reserved, quiet, and introverted. Isn’t that strange? That said, I love to engage with people during my travels, meeting new people and traveling go hand in hand and any interaction, good or unpleasant, adds depth to my experience.
My first impression of travel in the Caucasus region was a lovely one, arriving in sunny Tbilisi in 2016, to an enthusiastic welcome from the immigration officers. A couple of nights later, I was on a coach to Batumi, drinking wine from a Styrofoam cup with three new friends who were part of my tour group. That experience still stands out for me but was only a little taste of what was to come as the people of Georgia, Azerbaijan (2016) and Armenia (2019) are some of the most warm and welcoming I have met anywhere in the world.
I quickly scribble some of these thoughts in my diary (so that I remember them when I am staring at my computer screen later), pull my gloves back on and look around for my guide. Shushan has already reached the top of the slope and is and is signaling me towards a narrow uphill path shaped in the shrubbery by the footsteps of previous climbers. I sigh dramatically and prepare myself for my second hike in 34 years. ‘Resilience’ I remind myself and make my way up the slope. It will be a while before I reach the top.
Some people have a way of making a permanent space for themselves in our memories, don’t they?
I will never forget the people I have met during my visit, Narine, Marina, Hovo, Amir, Narkek, Shelby, Shushan’s mother’s freshly baked Gata or my time in Armenia, even if I try.