Alone among a billion


Somewhere amid the picking, processing and packing of tea leaves at a tea factory in India, Bill Giebler began to see a reflection of his own life: Grown to one purpose, and eventually turned to another.

“The metaphor just struck me,” he says.

His travel essay “The Tea in Me” interweaves a deeply personal journey from a job departure and in some ways an acceptance that his family has ceased to be what he once imagined it might be, to the experience of working at a tea factory in India.

He’d come to writing almost by happenstance — a gifted iPad, a blog a friend created and a trip to India that he admits, laughing, he didn’t want to say was about going to India to find himself, but was about going to India to find himself.

“I needed to shake myself up,” he says, “to find some time alone among a billion people.”

He’d gone to music school and continued to play music as a creative outlet while building a career at a software company and supporting a family. Writing didn’t need to be added to the list of things he did with his time, but somehow, it added itself.

“The sense of purpose was really just felt every time I wrote, I just felt like I was doing what I was meant to do,” he says.

the piano, selling solar panels, it all feels good, he says. But
writing was different. What he wants to do now is find a way to keep
telling those at times almost uncomfortably confessional stories —
looking at “The Tea in Me” now, four years after his trip, he says he
wonders if he’d be quite as bracingly honest if he wrote it today, but
then again, that’s when the writing seems to resonate with his readers.

think people are hungry for something that feels real,” he says. “That
is where I want to connect as a writer with my reader. … That’s when it
feels like doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”

— Elizabeth Miller


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