what you put in this world goes somewhere

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
--Mahatma Gandhi

After a relaxing weekend in Pune filled with heavy and sleepy eyelids, splashes in the pool, and stomach paining laughs we were finally beginning our work with Akanksha schools. The car ride felt as though it was a month long. We weaseled our way through traffic and the bumpy streets for about an hour until we reached the school. I took a deep breath before I stepped out of the car and whispered to myself “today is going to be good. Today is going to be great.” I felt the words slip out of my mouth and they were thick like honey. I felt them come from my mouth but not my heart. I walked into the room and the Akanksha kids were standing against one side of the room and we were on the other. A gaping hole was in the middle of us that I didn’t want to step into because I was scared. And so, we embarked on this day, both of us dancing around this gap that we knew was in front of us. Everything we did and said was done with caution. But it wasn’t even caution, it was hesitation or uneasiness. At one point in the day we all joined hands and were lead through an activity in which we weaved our way through one another. Our hands were connected but we weren’t together. We were all distant and in our separate worlds.  My mind darted back and forth during these activities and during discussions. I thought back to Ahmedabad and all that we had learned and experienced there. And I realized that I had never felt this kind of disconnect. My heart started to feel heavy and my limbs felt like jelly. I began just pulling myself around because I was feeling disheartened that I could not connect with everyone. Later that night, I talked with the rest of the group about my experience. Many of them were feeling the same way but we all knew that this was going to be difficult. The point was not to compare our experiences in Ahmedabad and Pune. The point was to take what we had learned and apply it to other situations. No experience will be the same but you can put the same love and energy into every situation. And as I realized this crucial information, my sleepy eyelids awoke from their days of slumber and I tapped into the positive energy that I knew I had inside of me. I had to embrace that gap that we were all dancing around and jump in it. And so, the next day, I stepped into the gap. But, I didn’t fall and there was nothing to fear. We only got closer. And with each step I took, they took a step forward as well. Not only was I physically closer to them, I felt connected to them. We were both vulnerable but we both took this step and now we were attached. On the car ride home, we were laughing and trying to get people on the road to wave at us, even though I was very unsuccessful. But as I saw my fellow Niswarthians get smiles, waves, and even just nods I realized that what you put in this world goes somewhere. And I believe that you get it back. So be the change.