I learned about magnitude. I learned that there are problems I need to solve alone, that no one else can solve for me even if they tried and there are problems which I can never solve alone, no matter how much I try. I learned that in order to solve the big problems, you need to solve the little ones first, especially the personal ones.
I learned what is important to me, what I want my life to be about. I want to fight climate change and save the environment because I have seen with my own eyes the true wonder of nature. You can travel the world and you can go trekking in all four corners of the globe but you can still not have understood what nature is capable of. You need to watch plants grow, you need to see how humans depend on them, you need to see the love between animals, something a lot of us lack. You need to live it, you need to be a part of it.
I learned that touring is different from experiencing. People visit several places, they sign up for all the guided tours and book all the cruises, but they come back the same as they were before they went. They come back exactly the same but with more material possessions. They go places and see wonders that humans created but they do not want to understand or interact with the humans who built them.
I learned about inter-dependency; how globalization veiled inter-dependency by offering us means through which we don’t have to know who created the things we use. I learned how this is dangerous.
I learned about loss and how we grieve it. I learned that animals grieve too. I learned that true strength lies in acceptance; that maturity can be measured by how fast we come to terms with events that shake us. I learned to emulate the Bhutanese; death is a part of life, and we have no reason to not joke about it as we do every other part of life.
I learned that a little humour goes a long way.
I learned that materialism is the key to misery. When you are able to sustain yourself and be happy living on the bare minimum, then you realize what sustainability actually is.
I learned that love can mean different things to different people and that’s okay. I learned how to build a fortress around my heart and why that’s not a bad thing.
I learned that there are different truths: the truth, the official truth and personal truth. The second is a half-truth, used by most governments to brainwash their population. The latter is the truth about your life experiences, your beliefs and your thoughts. Do we have the right to lie about our personal life if it does not impact other people? It is a question I am still contemplating the answer to but right now, I believe we do, but only if it does not affect anyone else’s life.
I learned that consistency is better than a few strong hits amidst several misses.
I learned to cherish the energy and enthusiasm that youth brings.
I learned the meaning of the word ‘home’: it’s much more than a place or a people and it can’t be identified purely from someone’s passport.
I learned how to write less but more; less words but with more meaning. I learned to appreciate the nuances.
I learned that the world is twisted; that it all boils down to power, not just money. So I learned to stray away from the mainstream.
I learned to discern lies, to question everything and when to speak out.
I learned most about the climate; or my lack of knowledge on the subject. I learned that we have crossed several tipping points that we shouldn’t have in our goal to stay below a 2 degree Celsius increase in temperature. I learned that it’s too late. But I also learned that being realistic is the best way to adapt and that sometimes, hope is the mask of fear.
In 2017, I learned to not plan out 2018 because life will come as it wishes anyway.