Overwhelmingly Beautiful Chaos
By: Alexis Cohn
The first thing I noticed about India was the smells. Pungent odors of cow and human waste, the suffocating smoke of burning trash, all mixed with the aromatic scent of spices and tandoori chicken. To this day the smell of burning trash takes my mind back to that magical place, and I find myself reminiscing about the overwhelmingly beautiful chaos that is India.
Cows are holy in India, for they are believed to be a reincarnation of the holy god Shiva, so cows roam freely throughout the country. This is particularly unusual when you see them lounging in the middle of a busy intersection, or encounter them wandering down a narrow alleyway. I never really realized just how huge cows were until I was walking next to one on a busy street in Varanasi. In the narrow streets within the city we always had to be on the lookout for wandering cows because often we'd find ourselves wedged between one and a wall!
India is an incredibly juxtaposed country. In the northern cities and villages, trash lied everywhere along the streets, and there always seemed to be a layer of dirt on every surface. The sky was always hazy with smoke and pollution, and some days the air quality was so bad we'd wake up coughing in our sleep. Yet it's alive with colors and sounds and incredible food. And the people are some of the most beautiful and genuine I've ever met.
For a week we stayed in a small village outside of Varanasi where the median household income was $50 a month. Though the houses were crude and the food simple, the hospitality was bountiful. Every morning our host mom "mummy Ji" would wake at 4 am to prepare our breakfast of chai and biscuits. Though she couldn't speak any English she loved looking at the photos we'd taken, showing us how to make Indian chai, and making sure we were always comfortable and fed. What this family lacked in wealth they made up for in love and kindness.
Throughout this journey we had been experiencing incredible kindness and love from people who clearly had much less privilege and wealth than us. They were always excited to see us and show us their ways of living, always proud of their lives and their families, no matter how much they had. Yet it wasn't until we were in Dharamshala, where the Dalai Lama and his people are in exile, that I fully understood how to appreciate what life hands you.
Where True Happiness Lies
While in Dharamshala I watched a documentary about the Dalai Lama, and in it he explained that he has found that the happiest of people are actually the ones with the least amount of money. To be truly satisfied with life, he explains, you cannot want for more. Those who are very very poor are capable of adequately surviving with what they have, and they accept their life as it is, so therefore they are content. People who have money or who know of excess, such as people in America, are hardly ever satisfied because they will continue to strive for more, never being fully satisfied with what they have. In this way even the poorest man alive could still be richer than the richest man alive, because he knows that true happiness lies in knowing that money isn't what produces satisfaction.
I know in today's day and age all the politically correct would be quick to point out that this theory isn't always true. But there is definitely an element of truth to it, that true happiness lies in the complete contentment with what you already have. This contentment is what I believe the people in the small villages of Thailand and India have, and it's something us as Americans need to learn to accept.
So how does this tie in to being an Entitled Millennial?
Well it proves that, yes, as Millennials we are entitled. We're entitled to travel, to experience other cultures and ways of life, to seek answers, to learn valuable lessons, to create friendships, to give help and to ask for it when it is needed, to feed our loved ones, and to live the widths of our lives as well as the length. We're entitled to all of this and more, because we're a generation of doers and changers, creators and thinkers. We find solutions, accept progression, and seek to better our world. I am beyond proud to be able to be a part of this "entitled" generation, and I'm fairly confident my other millennial friends feel the same. So whether you're a Baby Boomer, Gen-X, Millennial, or Centennial, go out and learn and seek and do. Truly live your life, don't just exist, because when it comes down to it we are all entitled to that.