It’s a silly thing. Thinking about the mundane, the unnecessary leaps into anxiety and worry. When all we really need to focus on is the inevitable character of the Universe to trample upon order and serve you outlandish opportunities – if you’re willing to take them anyway. When you feel insignificant or bored or unfulfilled, it’s time for you to cookie-cut yourself out of the societal bubble and take a fresh, hard look at what lies before you. As Disney-esque as the idea sounds, it takes a moment to figure that you have the balls to go balls to the wall, even though taking the plunge seems like a death-defying Mars mission with an oxygen tank touching on empty. But once you’ve made the dive, tread above water and breathe a little easier after the initial plunge into darkness, you will feel a sense of relief, a plan conquered. It wasn’t that scary. You’re significant. It’s all significant.
Take three conscious breaths. In and out. In and out. In and out. By doing this, you’re probably most aware that you’re alive. Perhaps it’s a caveman thing, an action the human body doesn’t pay attention to, but something as simple as smelling the goddamn roses can refocus your whole attention on the present. Out on a day off a few weeks ago, my mind was clogging along with news from home, where I will be in a few months’ time and what I should pursue as a twenty-something who was more preoccupied with dressing my passport book then signing off home loans. Iris, my Taiwanese friend, snapped me out of it all. We were sitting across each other at a bench table in Yangshuo, China. The air nippy, the area’s hallmark mountain mounds blanketed by some dancing fog. We dug into our fresh mango smoothie and equally refreshing mango and tapioca pudding cup. Our thick straws couldn’t quite maneuver the chunks of mango into our thirsty mouths so we tried with our plastic spoons, making a mush of it all. The tired waitress slid in and interrupted the smile and silence and dropped our hot and ready honey waffle for two between us. It was a moment departed. Suddenly I realised I was in China. A year ago, I was only dreaming of adventure and travel and explorations out of my comfort zone. It was only the idea of an idea without mapping out concrete plans. I had finally managed to polish my spiritual compass and imaginary Indiana Jones hat and whip, ready for action. I was ready to take that Mars mission. Even with a dubious oxygen tank. Fast forward to an after-massage mango break with a friend I made seven months ago on my arrival in Guilin and thoughts of what sort of Me I will be in six months seemed irrelevant. Laughable even.
Yanshuo’s moist trees hung over awkward cobbled streets. In West Street’s bustle, buzzing flying contraptions sprung between chatty children, tourists with long cameras and ageing tourists who were ready for beer at noon’s hello. Dancing minion figurines provided the street’s orchestra with sticky tofu, BBQ-ed squid on spiky sticks, coconut drinks and noodles on fire providing the wisps for nostrils to indulge in. Ornaments and symbols and cheap watches and clogs and beating grain clicked in time. 3pm and the night’s bars stood desolate, catching a hard-earned nap before happy hour. Only rich cappuccinos, lazy foamy beer and curries from around the world waited. A street side Chinese hamburger or a German man holding out an oozing sausage under his brightly-lit stall.
Iris took my arm as we fixed our eyes right and left, up and down.
“Where are we? I get confused in this place.” I say. She giggled – her trademark in response.
“I don’t know. Let’s just go and see.”