As I sat down to write this month’s column, I reread the last 4 columns on the Four Agreements. So much has happened since I wrote them that they seemed new and fresh to me, as if I had not written them. I was in India for most of December and I have so many memories and visuals that float through my mind.
It is an interesting experience to be an American in India. Our culture is much more direct (blunt) than a culture where so many people live so closely together. I had to rethink the meaning of “impeccable” within that culture so that I did not offend others.
In India people come right up to you and offer their services. They persevere, they follow you down the street, they jostle others for your attention. That is how they do business in such a crowded place. It is not about you personally, it is about any possible business they might be able to do with you.
I was walking in Rishikesh and I saw a man lying on the road. His feet were on the dirt path and his entire body was perpendicular on the road. I flagged a doorman and pointed to the man. The doorman stood up, looked over the wall and said “OK, just sleeping” and sat back down. “Oh, …., O..K…” I said and walked past him. I walked on, waiting to hear the sound of brakes squealing and a thud, but nothing happened. On the way back I asked the doorman what had happened and he said “He woke up. He walked away.” I must have looked very puzzled so he added “We know him. He has a very small brain.” I really experienced the differences in our cultures in that moment.
I experience the Indian people to be very friendly and open. I noticed so many foreign tourists would not make eye contact with the local folks, in order to maintain boundaries with them and I resolved not to do that. I chose to greet everyone who looked my way with their traditional greeting, Namaste, and I was richly rewarded with wonderful moments with people. I did my best to be present with everyone I met and I had a great trip.
But we don’t have to go halfway across the globe to practice the 4 Agreements. We can use them every day to create better lives for ourselves, our loved ones and those around us.