So our little adventure across two continents ended up being fruitful beyond expectations.
I signed up for #MongolRally2017 for no reason. It was literally: “hey, this looks interesting. Why not?”. I didn’t have an agenda or a bucket list. The rally rules stated that we had to raise at least £1000 for charity, and I thought “well, let’s aim for the stars and see where we land”. Accordingly, we put out an outrageous appeal for $48k: sponsor the education of 200 kids for 1 year. Kids who are working in farms and factories. Kids who don’t have opportunities. I didn’t think we’d raise more than $3000.
We ended up raising $41,300 (Donations to US fundraising site + donations to India fundraising site + corporate matching by the employers of some donors + offline donations). Enough money to send 172 kids to school for one whole year.
While I learnt a few valuable life lessons along the way (noted further down), more important was what I experienced. I experienced 3 months of constantly being surrounded by compassionate human beings who cared about a world beyond themselves, their families, and their own cares and concerns. Imagine watching only terrible news everyday: mass shootings, natural disasters, wars, poverty, diseases, genocide. It is simply depressing. Makes you wonder if life is worth it. Makes you lose faith in humanity. Most of us simply tune most it out because we can’t deal with what it means. Now imagine the complete opposite: every day, seeing the best of humanity – compassion, love, kindness, generosity, selflessness. This is what I was surrounded by before, during, and after the rally. Friends, family, and strangers alike putting aside their own lives and prioritizing someone else: generously donating for some unknown child on the other side of the world, helping us out with logistics, supporting us physically, mentally, emotionally, with big hearts, warm smiles, and lots of love. This was my life for 3 months. I bore witness, every day, endlessly, to normal people being amazing human beings. Humanity in full display. My life has been irrevocably changed, elevated, because I happened to have ring-side seats, for this amazing display. And for that, I’m filled with gratitude. Thank you.
For those who prefer bullet pointed takeaways, here are a couple of valuable lessons I learnt along the way:
1. It’s about the journey, not the destination. I’m grateful to my teammate and partner-in-crimeAnitha Reddy for embodying this. If not anything else, the entire 42 day drive was filled only with unknowns and unknowables (partly because both of us didn’t believe in planning for anything other than our visas and car papers), and my normal modus operandi is to suffer every journey with my expectations of efficiency. With Anitha Reddy’s distinct lack of judgement over the results (we still observed and made adjustments, mind you, just suspended the beating-up portion), I experienced what it feels like to not suffer my expectations of efficiency, and goal-orientedness. We finished 2 days later than we planned (42 days instead of 40 days), but never suffered a minute of the journey.
2. Perception of risk is vastly exaggerated. We humans are amazingly resilient. No matter what, we’ll still be ok.
3. These #1 & #2 above are valuable to me. I am no omniscient enlightened person to proclaim these to be truths in life, but by sharing these I am hoping these stories inspire at least one person to pursue a journey of his/her own – a journey in pursuit of evolution and growth. One needn’t step outside their doors to journey anywhere, but all the same, journey one must, in order to not stagnate and grow.