#9 Wanderlust

Aw. Don’t you just love conspiracy theories about the world. This picture made me laugh out loud for some reason. Maybe it’s the absurdity of the idea and the fact that the pipe-smoking rabbit itself is so adorable.
Speaking about the world, I do like to travel more during my school breaks. I realise that I’ve had quite a privileged childhood of travelling to various parts of the world almost every year. Growing up broadens perspectives, sharpens observations and perhaps, allows travel memories to linger and make  longer-lasting impressions on minds. I used to think that holidays were all about shopping and i still do, to a smaller extent. Night markets in Bangkok, Covent Garden in London, factory outlets in the States – i remember them all. I do wish, however, that i captured the streets, the food and the people in photographs. And oh boy do I wish I was a better photographer with a better camera. Maybe I should start saving up for a Canon Powershot. My current digital camera is three years old; it’s great for taking shots of social settings at restaurants and all that but absolutely does not do scenic places justice. I find that it lacks the depth and the 3D-ness of good photographs because, well obviously, it’s a digital camera. But first, I need to hone my photo-taking skills.
I would love to go to Paris, not because it’s a fashion capital but to soak up with Parisian culture (sans their alleged snobbery), sit at their famous pavement cafes with a book whilst furtively people-watching, stroll in the parks and of course, visit the Louvre. Now this is by far, the prettiest photo I’ve ever seen of the Louvre:
Venice {source}
Paris may be overrated but I think it has a charm to it that is undeniable and I would love to experience it for myself. I’m excited that having the privilege to study here in the UK puts me in such close proximity to the other European countries. Not being able to go home every term break like some people do points me towards other travel alternatives which makes not going home not so bad after all. Venice, Paris, Spain, Rome, Italy, Cyprus, Switzerland, Greece – too many choices really. All I need is to save up, read up (which I’m really not a big fan of this), arm myself with a good camera, some traveling companions whom I can trust, a good book or two and I should be more or less set to go. Of course, I’d need to make sure I complete majority, if not, all of my assignments beforehand. Here’s the part where I bring myself back down to Earth from Cloud Nine – all this is a bit too early to speak of, although Easter break is coming up in less than two months.
Then again, I was reading a rather interesting blog post about how too often destinations itself become the whole point of travel instead of the journey as well.
“We have forgotten how to be travelers and we are tourists instead; it is the world that is still, for those who possess the capacity for stillness.”
“We are too enamoured of destinations. We hunger too much for arrival. We treat the road as an interval between meanings, an interregnum between dispensations, and so we are blinded by the richness…”
Leonard Cohen, song-writer
It really is quite true. We count down the number of hours on the plane till we touch down at our destination and we tend to get some shut-eye on the shuttle bus or taxis to our hotel, evidently exhausted by the travel journey. But what’s there to be excited about by a 7-hour plane flight? Or the 40-minute taxi ride from the airport to the hotel? Or even by the 10-minute walk from the hotel to the nearest shopping centre or area of interest? Honestly, I don’t have much of an idea myself. But i do see the value in savouring the transport process itself. Observing the surroundings and soaking up the sights and sounds are a must, definitely. I suppose what is important as well is what goes on in our heads when we do so. It’s so easy to go “Wow, look at that” or “this place is so different from where I live” etc. Take a step further beyond the excitement and immediate reactions to everything and we’ll find ourselves musing, pondering, reflecting and possibly forming a deeper and more meaningful appreciation of the place we’re in. The adrenaline rush of being in a new place and the cacophony of sights, smells and sounds will soon die down. What’s left aren’t just memories; it’s our own thoughts that we formed, not necessarily about our experience, but during that very same experience – as Cohen mentioned, the ‘capacity for stillness’.
So too is this so-called principle true in reality, outside of the context of travel. We hurry forward to the end that we forget that the means to that same end is just as important, if not, more important. We forget that life itself is a process, a process of our characters being moulded by God’s hand, of our experiences being richened, of making mistakes and then picking ourselves up again, stronger. Whether we’re aware of it or not, life’s milestones of achievement like academic excellence, graduation with first-class honours, high-flying career or that glamourous job, marriage, children and the like have eclipsed the essence of what we’re even here for on Earth. Life isn’t a routine or a template for everyone to follow or deviate from if they so choose. It’s dynamic and no two lives are ever led in the same way. Like stones, we are scrubbed, chiseled and refined to become diamonds in His eyes. Every chiseling hurts but as long as we keep our focus on the eternal, we will overcome the temporal. The end cannot be denied as important, it is in helping us go through the process, knowing that we will eventually get to the end. The process is full of both joy and sorrow; but it is what makes the end so meaningful. Along the way, we may have to lose what we deem precious, yet we gain so much more when we do so. We often don’t understand it all until the end when He chooses to reveal it to us.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith”
Hebrews 12:2a
Eyes on the Cross. Not the hardships. Not the heart.
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