The monotone, sing-song of a monk reading rang through the early morning darkness. A crowd of people spoke in hushed tones, pacing this way and that atop the temple, looking for the prime photo-taking spot. Eventually the roosters started to crow, calling forth the sun. We waited – rather impatiently, everyone jockeying for position. Then the colors started to come. As if by magic the landscape lightened and began to take shape. Trees, bushes, temples forming on the canvas in front of us as if by an invisible painter.
In Bagan, it’s not necessarily the sun that’s the main attraction during sunrise as a constant mist hangs in the sky. But it’s what the sun is illuminating, which is so rare. Typically natural beauty is the most impactful to me. But the other-worldliness of Bagan is so pronounced, it’s alarming to the point of tears. The light had completely filled our view before the sun even started to peek out from the horizon.
“See. The sun is finally coming,” said the French girl sitting next to me. “It’s shy, no?”
Not a moment after the sun appeared the hot air balloons began to ascend and floated lazily overhead. It’s easy to be distracted with taking the perfect picture at this moment. But you’d be missing out on the real magic and mystery of Bagan if you didn’t put down your phone/camera, breathe in the cold morning air and allow the moment to wash over you.
One morning I caught myself experiencing sunrise through my phone. I eventually put it down and just looked – and was overwhelmed with the fact that I was in MYANMAR. A place I hadn’t planned to visit. In truth, a place that was a complete mystery to me just a couple weeks prior. And I was thankful for it all. The wonder of life, travel, the understanding (which is different than knowing) that you really do have the freedom and capability to follow your heart and create the life of your own choosing.
There’s always a reason you can’t or shouldn’t do it (whatever “it” is). But they’re not reasons – they’re excuses. If you really want it, you can make it happen. You WILL make it happen. And when you get there, in the monotony of it (because there’s monotony in everything – even travel, where every day brings new adventures and possibilities) you’ll have a moment of clarity and think, “I did it.”
My moment of clarity was there, sitting atop a temple in Myanmar, watching the sun come up. But it could just as easily have happened in a far less dramatic setting. The setting isn’t important (although it doesn’t hurt). That’s just scenery. The meaning is in the plot. And it meant everything.