Bir, Himachal, after the rain, becomes breathtakingly gorgeous. The trees and bushes change colour and texture to a luscious dark green. It's as if nature ramped up the contrast while turning down the brightness. The forest and its inhabitants become much more alive and mysterious. If one is not engrossed in their own thoughts or glued to their smartphone, it is impossible to ignore the soothing sound of the stream. I was struck by how the white misty clouds looked to hug the far hills like the cream topping on an ice cream cone. If only I could taste it! Perhaps it would be a better idea to climb the hill near Bari Village so that I could admire the beauty of the mountains from above.

So I began my ascent, taking in the scenery around me. I came to a halt when I found a good spot to sit and meditate with a good view. Today was a vibrant and productive day, I thought, because it was filled with activities that I enjoyed doing with the people I cared about. But there was still a tinge of regret lurking somewhere in the back of my mind. I had previously visited this cafe and met a man with his girlfriend who was a paraglider. That had elicited an internal sense of desire. I watched as my mind took me on a ride to a fantasy island where I had a lot of money and could buy a camper van, put a bike in it, and travel wherever I wanted. It seemed to provide me with a sense of freedom that I felt I lacked at the time. I frequently let my mind run wild with its own sense of imagination. Then I realised that the things I seemed to want aren't so dissimilar to the things I already have, if only better. I'm travelling with an incredible friend who inspires and supports me, I have a bike and camping gear, I'm a good musician, and I have so much to offer. I'm in a lovely setting, and I consider myself fortunate to be able to walk around freely. What else do I require?

bir

I began walking from where I sat and discovered this new path I had never taken before. New faces, new houses with lovely gardens in their front yards. How lovely and red are those roses? I'm smiling at everyone who crosses my path. It's as if the scenery on the outside coincided with an opening on the inside. What else could it be but a reflection of my own mind? If there is a state of freedom, it is one in which I am content and do not require anything else. Everything I need and consume seems to dim this light. I could hide and bury this light for a while, but it always seems to return, illuminating the path forward.

I recalled how my friend and I had been looking for a place to live for a few days and had not been able to discover anything that felt right. That was no longer required of me. I was ecstatic to try out this new way of living filled with adventure. How lovely it would be to camp near a stream one day and on top of a mountain the next, only eating raw, healthy fruits and salads. Then I realised - now that the need to find a place had passed, the universe will manifest exactly what we require! Only the need was cutting across the flow, with the mind attempting to take the flow somewhere I didn't need to be.

I was walking down from Bari to Bir Road when I observed this writing on a tshirt: "Swades." Yes, it felt like a homecoming - becoming who I am rather than who I want to be!