Finding Om: Chapter 1 Preview

Finding Om: An Indian Journey of Rickshaws, Chai, Chapattis and Gurus


Chapter 1

The Need to Escape

“I’m always happy when I’m surrounded by water, I think I’m a mermaid, or was a mermaid. The ocean makes me feel really small and it makes me put my whole life into perspective … it humbles you and makes you feel almost like you’ve been baptized. I feel born again when I get out of the ocean.”

Beyonce Knowles

I am a person of the future. A forward-thinking individual who has the end set in mind and a do-what-it-takes-now attitude to get me one step closer to the future.

Progressive, futuristic, and philanthropic, I knew where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do with my life. To say the least, I was not a sit-in-the-present type of person. I was always on the go with a goal in mind.

Beyond goals, I embraced a progressive lifestyle of enjoying life from living abroad to listening to house music—the progressive beats that the majority of Americans dislike. The ambient rhythms elevated my soul that embraced movement, individuality, love, and freedom. While listening to these soul-pumping beats, the music inspired the 900 visions I wanted to pursue.

Growing up in the wonderful yet traditional Midwest, I grew into the classification of being a “bird of a different feather.”

Some claimed I was liberal, but I proclaimed the word differently, as I knew there was something different about my outlook and perceptions in life. I felt ahead of my time, where my ideas and thoughts were a decade ahead of society.

I was an active and involved student pursuing a sport management degree at Bowling Green State University. In my freshman year, my favorite professor told me that he saw much of him in me, a person who is multitalented, a “Jack of all trades,” but needs to focus and excel in one area of life. Focus on one area? How boring. How mundane. How … average. My visionary soul required more than normal and mundane thought processes. I truly desired freedom.

I enjoyed the collegiate experience of playing rugby and tennis, leading campus tours to prospective college-bound students, and working at a vegan café, Squeakers. Combined with drunken nights and partying my ass off five to six nights per week, life seemed like a traditional Midwest college experience.

Life was pleasant—so one would think—until the fall of 2005, when life seemed depressing and emotionally exhausting. Once 2006 approached, I experienced an extraordinary yet unbelievably messed up year emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

To better understand, we must take a walk into the past. In 2005, a sophomore in college, I studied abroad at Griffith University Gold Coast in Australia. My number one goal in college was to study abroad. My second goal was to write and become a published writer.

In January 2005, before leaving for Australia, I spent two weeks with my dad in Hawaii. This trip opened my eyes to the other side of living that I did not experience the last year and a half—nature, purity, and beauty. It inspired me to start writing about life before my Australian journey began.

Date: January 29, 2005

Location: Willoughby Hills, Ohio

Time: 4:40 p.m.

I am finally home from Hawaii and getting ready to pack for Australia. One journey ended (Hawaii) and another is about to begin. My feelings and emotions are mixed at the moment. Part of me is scared to leave my friends and family. The other part of me is excited to explore another world, nervous for class credits to transfer but beyond thrilled to be back in the mountains and ocean. Dear God, I really belong there, especially in the ocean.

Hawaii has opened my eyes to many things, and I have high hopes of reaching my goals. I finally realized what I want to do with my life, and much of that includes experiencing new things and having fun. And maybe on this journey, I can find a decent guy. I met a great guy on the Blue Dolphin Charter Company, and I realized there are guys who will communicate with me outside of being drunk or high. Interestingly enough, being in Hawaii made me laugh at why I cried over all those heartaches. They’re not worth it. What a waste of time! However, when I am away everything is great. But what do I have to come home to? One will never know. But one thing is for sure: no one will get in the way of my explorations. Here I come, Australia—ready to explore and conquer. PS: I really miss my best friend, Katie Finnegan.

On February 5, 2005, my dad dropped me off at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Later that afternoon, I boarded a Qantas flight in Los Angeles en route to Sydney and Cairns.

While in the air, I noticed many of the eighty-some Americans taking advantage of the free alcohol on the plane, some concocting “slurries”—alcohol mixed with sleeping pills. My only interest lay in writing.

Date: February 5, 2005

Location: Somewhere in the Air

Time: 7:42 p.m. Eastern Standard Time

Well, I’m on the plane and on my way to Australia. I can’t believe I am here; I think reality is finally settling in. Although I have another eighteen hours of travel (yuck), I know it’ll be worth it in the end. I miss everyone already, but am ready to take on the world. I really have no idea what to expect from this journey. All I know is that I am totally pumped, and I hope everything goes smoothly with class, finding an apartment, and making friends. Great news, the BG Newspaper will let me write an article about my experience! I can’t wait to write for them—it’ll be my first published article!

Also, I must say, I am very proud of myself and my successes. But most of all, I am proud of making myself happy! Who knows what the next five months will bring? But here is a list of promises I must keep:

-Do well in class (I am here to study!).

-Travel to Sydney, New Zealand, and Fiji (and other places, but these are the top three!).

-Play and watch rugby.

-Not drink … a lot. (Remember, I’ll be wearing a bathing suit!)

-Waste time on guys who are not worth it.

-Eat healthy and exercise plenty.


-Surf—of course!

-Most of all—have fun!

So what am I waiting for? Get ready to sail away to a new chapter in life.

Thanks to the international dateline, the plane landed on my twentieth birthday—February 7, 2005—in Cairns, Australia. Upon landing, my jetlag was saturated at the first sights of tropical beauty and breaths of swampy humidity.

That evening most students went to get “pissed” at the pub. I declined invitations of “you gotta party on your birthday.” Instead, I spent my birthday night alone writing in my journal at the hostel. I saved my energy for the morning’s scuba session in the Great Barrier Reef—my lifelong dream. I walked to the hostel’s computer lab and wrote a comical e-mail to my family upon my arrival and explained how most of the girls took their fake attitudes, leather-bag tans, and cheap-scented perfume to frolic around the pubs with the boys. But not me.

In celebration of my birthday, and living in a new, exotic destination, I yearned for a rebirth and the pursuit for writing. I felt a transition approaching my life and knew this was not the right time to consume mood-altering substances. I returned to my bed, gazed at the ceiling in the stench-filled hostel, and wrote in my journal. Once my pen hit the page, my soon-to-blossom soul evolved into a budding flower in search for life’s meaning.

On February 8, 2005, I experienced life underwater, and with my first few breaths, I reincarnated into a soulful human being. The graceful beauty of the sea and marine life left me speechless, and it touched my heart and spirit in a different way. The experience was indescribable. The movement and graceful flow of the ocean and its living creatures brought tears to my goggles. No words could express the majestic beauty of the sea, but with one salty tear, I united with the planet, which conveyed my suppressed emotions. With each breath, I reawakened with curiosity to explore and understand this thing we call life.

February 9, 2005

Location: Cairns, Australia

Day: 3

Time: 10:15 p.m.

Well, I am finally here—day three to be exact. I enjoyed every moment! I did not do much for my birthday due to jet lag, but that’s okay. I wish I celebrated with my family, but oh well. I did meet a couple nice girls, especially Laura. I’ve noticed that a bulk of girls here are plastic-looking “cocoa-butter bitches,” which disappoints me (probably the reason why I would never join a sorority). I guess I did not know what to expect, but thought I’d meet more people who are genuine in life transformation rather than worrying about partying and not cherishing what we’ve experienced thus far. Have I matured too quickly? Or maybe I’ve come to the realization that boozing is not a priority right now? Either way, I know there are plenty of party opportunities in the Gold Coast.

Yesterday, we went to the Great Barrier Reef. “WOW” is the only word of expression. The marine life, coral, and colors were spectacular, the most vibrant life-form I’ve set my eyes on. I felt as if I explored a whole new world separate from the Planet Earth that I know. I wish, and hope to, spend more time under the sea. It’s amazing that something as simple as scuba diving makes you realize a lot of things about life. I feel so damn lucky to have had that experience.

Today, we went to the zoo and viewed the Australian wildlife. I fed kangaroos and held a koala. I guess my third goal (hold a koala) can be check-marked off my list. They are these adorable yet squeezable gentle creatures—I want to own one. We also learned about Aboriginal culture, and I must say, the Aboriginal food was beyond delicious and aromatic. We got to experience aboriginal living by throwing spears and boomerangs. I must say it was challenging and certainly a skill. But my favorite part was the didgeridoo music. What I’ve come to realize is that I appreciate their lifestyle, respect their culture, and identify with their philosophy.

Cairns is a beautiful city located in Northern Queensland. It reminds of me a large Kauai. This area homes lush, green rainforest mountains, banyan trees, and tropical flowers … so far I’ve noticed the Aussies are wonderful people. Everyone is laid-back and extremely nice. I find it interesting that the American and Australian lifestyle is similar but different in many ways. I am sure I’ll discover more about their culture as time passes. For now cheers, mate!

Similar to the aboriginals, I too sun-worshiped this sacred land we call Oz. Australia tugged my heartstrings. It was as if I were destined to become another spectacle of this spiritual place. As a child, Australian wildlife fascinated me—kangaroos, wombats, koalas, lorikeets, whales, and marine life. I did not know how, but naturally everything fell into place. I understood the circle of life and appreciated the beauty of nature and its wildlife. No day was complete without the vibrant-colored lorikeets flying, circling, and arching like a rainbow in the sky.

I never identified with a place or a human being more than Australia. To simply state, the locals “got it.” Their culture understood my mentality. And my outlook identified with, and was influenced by, their culture. I felt invigorated and revitalized in the present moment.

I lived my lifestyle with ease—being one with the earth, universe, and nightclub—without judgment or critique. I learned to live a simple life free of worries, stress, and chaos. Living life with freedom was pivotal for my soul’s true self-expression. And I started to break away from traditional American thought processes and patterns.

February 20, 2005

Location: Chevron Island, Australia

Day: 14

Time: 6:25 p.m.

Finally, some time to write and reflect. First, my roommates and I are finally out of that shit-hole apartment, 14E Peninsula. I could “survive” with living there, but the vibe felt dull and draining. We are now in an incredible, ocean-view apartment on the esplanade. I now feel that “life” can begin again, especially since I’ve been eager to get back to a daily routine. Right now, I am sitting on the balcony overlooking the sunset, and it is absolutely incredible. Magnificent hues of warm colors torch the sky with radiance and electric energy. It is almost as great, if not better, as the Hawaiian sunsets.

Little things such as a sunset make me realize how lucky I am. And I have to admit something. I’ve fallen in love—with Australia. I am madly, deeply, and truly in love with this place and never want to return home.

Living on an island has made me realize many things about life.

-Time: It is okay to relax and not be rushed and stressed all the time. I guess that’s why they say, “Take time to stop and smell the roses.” I need to do that more often during this trip.

-Money: Yes, I am on a budget and constantly worrying about my funds, but … it’s only paper! And it’s okay to spend money on things you enjoy in life.

-Life: Life’s a beach! Enjoy it and have the time of your life! You can’t turn back time, but you can change how you spend your time in the future.

-People: Island people always seem happy and over-the-top friendly … did I also mention Australian men are hot? Maybe it’s the weather? But islander’s attitude and physical appearance is primo!

Hmm, well, I did party over the weekend. The partying was so much fun. It’s interesting how partying here feels so different, like a celebration, not a coping mechanism for problems. (And, oh, my word, do I love the Australian accent.) On a brighter note, the beaches are excellent. Every time I plug my toes into the sand, it’s as if I rebirth and shed an old layer of skin. I can’t help but think of the old saying, “There are more stars in the sky than there are grains of sand on all the beaches in the world.” If that is true, then this gift called life is spectacular and special.

Katie and I went surfing today, and poor girl got hit in the face. And, I just found out, we were fifty meters away from a shark yesterday! Scary shit! Well, the sun is finally down and the moon is out. Who knows what will happen tonight?

The future was alive—literally, as Australia was fourteen hours ahead of Ohio, and figuratively, as I spent every night gazing at the celestial paintings in the night sky. I gazed at the clearest skies my eyes have ever seen and teared at the sight of the Southern Cross and the astral powder that dusted the constellations. Only the Milky Way knew my destiny, and there was no fear of what the future held—only excitement.

Date February 25, 2005

Day: 20

Location: Surfers Paradise, Australia

Time: 8:08 p.m.

Exhausted! It’s my only word of expression right now as I just got back from the action-packed, nonstop, thrilling destination, Byron Bay. You want to know what is really incredible right now? Watching the moon glisten over the ocean. It’s absolutely beautiful, a once-in-a-lifetime sight. Maybe one day I can bathe in the ocean underneath the moonlight. Speaking of night … Cheeky Monkeys was a blast last night! I felt so free dancing around. I can tell dancing does something to me that no other gym exercise could do. I also love this electronic/techno music that I hear everywhere. The music, meshed with the sun, inspires my mind to be happy and my body to be free.

The music reminds me of my Polish roommate, Kinga, who said that in Poland, electro music is popular, and the kids would walk miles in snowstorms just to go to a club. I work most of the time at this café that plays lounge music while a projector scrolls through beautiful beach landscapes on the wall. These atmospheres and ambient beats enhance my creativity and increase my energy. At home, I’d be afraid to tell people that I like this type of music as I’d be labeled as some pill-popping clubber. I just like to feel free.

In the modern world, life was “full-on.” I adopted the “no worries” attitude and lived life to the fullest. The nightclubs closed at 5:00 a.m., just in time for the sunrise and the morning surf or yoga class. Life never stopped in Australia, and movement was part of health and vitality. The solo moments of me, my surfboard, and the ocean twinkled in my eyes throughout the day, and then I stared at the stars at night. I united with the earth and Australia in a way that I never thought was possible.

But it was that impeccable energy that encouraged living every day to the fullest. Australia pushed me beyond my comfort zone, and inspired me to live a well-balanced life equipped with equal parts of work and play, although play usually won the battle. Life in Australia was a sensual blend of spiritual and sexual energy to equally balance the yin and yang of life.

The best moments of life were my beach walks with nothing but my bathing suit, sarong, CD player, and plastic headphones. Listening to inspirational beats while grounding my feet into the earth connected my soul with freedom. The sun soaked my body with energy while the rustling waves drenched my legs in happiness. Each walk I listened to a different CD, and every walk I felt a tear stream from my eye. With every footstep, my brain sunk deeper into a meditative oceanic state while my consciousness ascended into the universe. This place, with a capital F, was “Fucking Heaven.”

February 27, 2005

Day: 22

Location: Surfers Paradise (My Balcony)

Time: 12:20 p.m.

Well, where to start? Maybe I should explain my bar crawl situation last night? Besides getting over-the-top tipsy (bad girl), breaking my shoe, and spilling peanut butter and jelly all over my limbs—thanks to a drunken hunger outrage, and then returning back to the bar with PB&J all over me—I had so much fun! Somehow, I scored a dinner date with an Aussie, Craig. He (and the Aussies) made me realize that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, so I’m slowly breaking away from this American programmed mind-set. Anyways, the Rose & Crown was a blast and played some fantastic electro beats last night. The great news is that the clubs don’t close until 5:00 a.m.! And I actually stayed up that late!

After a bit of rest this morning, I took a walk on the beach and listened to my new CD. My favorite song (I hear it everywhere here in Australia) “I can’t wait for the weekend to begin,” played on repeat for the whole walk. Listening to the music and looking at the magnificent beauty of the ocean, I once again realized, DAMN, I am so lucky to be here! The gorgeous flow of the waves made me realize I do not want to go home. I never want to leave this place. I belong here. Beautiful city, beautiful beaches, beautiful people, fantastic bars—life is just beautiful here. I belong here. It feels as if I have returned home. The people are so chilled here, and they don’t let shit bother them. They dust issues off as easily as the wave that retreats back into the ocean. It’s as if they are more accepting of life circumstances. I’m looking forward to getting involved more with clubs and meeting new people. Until next time: Peace, Love, and Bars are open ’til 5:00 a.m.!

These contemplative feelings at twenty years of age were confusing and scary—but exciting. In search for many things in life, from adventure to spirituality, the one thing I knew is that the Aussies figured life out. Have fun in the sun, party until your pants drop, respect the earth, and move your body. These were the basic essentials of living down under.


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