A gifted individual is a quick and clever thinker, who is able to deal with complex matters. Autonomous, curious and passionate. A sensitive and emotionally rich person, living intensely. He or she enjoys being creative. -definition of giftedness written by the Netherlands Study on Giftedness in Adults

Friday, January 17, 2014

Traveling with Intensity

The Teenlet and I are going on an adventure. This is a trip I've wanted to take my whole life, and the opportunity came up to do it, so we're going. We are going to India.

Now, everything I've heard about India is that it's an intense experience that will touch every emotion, sense, and engage the imagination. I hear about the huge crowds of people, the smaller personal bubble that you must live with when there are that many people living in so little space. According to World Population Statistics, India's population is about 1001 people per square mile - that's compared to the United States' population, which is 88.6 people per square mile. So... lots of people, especially in the cities. With lots of people comes lots of noise, smells, things to see and taste. Add to that India's love of color and beauty, and you get the potential for being overwhelmed even if you don't have extra sensitivity to all of those things. Three of the four of us who are traveling together experience significant sensory sensitivity, so this will be interesting (I suspect the fourth does also, but does not show it).

As if the sensory overload isn't enough, India also presents an emotional challenge. We will be in big cities and smaller towns, and I've heard that poverty in India is inescapable. Even in making our travel plans, we've seen the incredibly low wages that people in India make (200 Rupees/day for our driver - that's about US$3.25). Contrast that to India's fascination with technology and the wealth that tech jobs bring, and I'm sure we're in for an emotional ride. If you want to read a heart-wrenching but lovely book about life in the Mumbai undercity, check out Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.

We will see the most beautiful building in the world, and we will see slums. We will see palaces, forts, lakes and forests. We will see rail lines that go forever. We will see Hindu temples and Muslim mosques. We will see bazaars that extend beyond what the eye can see. We will hear and tell stories from times gone by as we seek out places we've only read about in history books and personal letters. We will see tragedy and beauty, melded together in a way that will make them almost interchangeable. This - all of this - is fodder for the imagination, and I'm sure the tales we live, and those we spin, will live on for years to come.

So for those of us who experience overexcitabilities anyway, this will be a fascinating experience. We have definitely padded our time there, to give spans of time for our senses and emotions to engage, process, and release what we are experiencing. I have my brightly colored kurti and even more brightly-colored shalwar kameez so I won't stand out (oh the irony!). Books have been read, itineraries planned, and bags are almost packed.

India is a place that has a huge place in my personal mythology and has been part of my imaginary world since I was a young child. Now it will become part of my real world, my life experience.

Oh how I love adventures.

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