Loving my Corner of the World
Ever since I was a kid, I would flip through the inflight magazines to read up on the different destinations around the country and around the globe. I remember that time when we flew to London. I was five years old, or six, I forgot. Mere fragments remain in me now; I still remember going out of a toy store, and just as I was going out, a big red double-decker bus passed by. I also remember that time when we had to ride the ferry to some obscure island to visit a statue; turns out it was the Statue of Liberty. I love to travel. Sadly, traveling is something I haven’t done so much during the past few years, ever since became an ad executive and settled down to start a family.
I still held on to that ideal vision of walking down Berlin, passing under the Brandenburg Gate, or visiting Auschwitz and lighting a lone candle for the millions who have died, or, better still, sipping coffee while sitting on a porch in Santorini, watching the minnows playfully frolic on the surface of the Mediterranean. Or, if Europe wasn’t my destination, I could fulfill my dreams of writing a poem, or a piece of my mind, under the Sakura tree by the Imperial castle.
I told myself that it would be okay leaving that dream of finally standing underneath the Eiffel Tower, or walking along the narrow streets of Netherlands, or marveling at the magnificence of the Sistine Chapel, or even catching a football game in one of the many stadiums that dot the European continent. I told myself that I will never have another chance at buying bread in a remote Austrian town, or devouring genuine Belgian Waffles in Brussels, or getting lost in Prague, and, instead of going back, would stay up all night strolling the quiet and serene streets, maybe chance upon a stranger, pick up a conversation, over liquor.
Since the economic collapse, that dream of sleeping on the couch of the train as it travels around Europe will only be a dream, mere dreams that even I can never get hold of. There will be no book publishing guide of my world travels, or a gastronomic journal of all the cuisines I’ve tasted and smells I’ve savored.
So it has been years since I abandoned that dream. And yet, I have told myself that letting go of that dream made me see life from a radically different perspective – that everyday is a day of traveling, and to look at my surroundings with new eyes. Now I treasure each commute to the office, taking different routes if I’m early to see more of Chicago. It also made me more conscious of the environment, in that I now take care of the views I see around me. I dutifully segregate my trash, switch off unused lights, and bring my own grocery bag, all in an effort to maintain the beauty of what I see.
To see the world as one big box that we are thrown into should make us love and cherish it. Even I can only travel to a little corner of that box.