Sleeping stone temples sporadically adorn the vast forest, their pointed peaks slicing through the thick, verdurous canopy, allowing the sly beams of the rising sun to illuminate and awaken the array of wildlife slumbering below. Vibrant birds begin their morning song as chattering monkeys dart and spring enthusiastically through ancient Buddhist architecture, their playful calls the only glimmers of mischief in the otherwise serene structures.
Sadly, this is not a scene from one of my travel adventures, but rather, a mere preview from the Disney Nature movie which tauntingly graced the presence of the TV screen three times today (note to self: watch less TV. This is perhaps the most notable distinction between travel-Laurian and America-Laurian. Travel Laurian does not even know what a television is, and if confronted with a television screen, would bumble over it in a caveman-esque fashion, while America-Laurian makes a personal competition out of television watching, binging on endless seasons of Friends and other forgettable sitcoms), sending pangs of wanderlust careening sharply through my brain to settle deep within my gut. World travel spoils you. I have witnessed infant monkeys scampering up dewy trees to seek the comfort of their mothers, woken up to wild buffalo trekking through lush rice fields, the white cranes settled on their backs attesting to the slow pace of the journey. I have gone swimming in crystalline waterfalls and seas so vibrantly blue they rather resemble the Kool-aid dyed water of miniature-golf courses, and have ridden frenetic elephants through dense rainforests and rushing streams. I have witnessed the exotic- the unwavering natural beauty that leaves your eyes excitedly twinkling with wonder, your mouth hanging open in an expression of stupid-disbelief, and your stomach feeling like you are currently descending the tallest peak on the world’s largest roller-coaster.
The exotic crashes down on you with a deluge of contradiction, convincing you that nature and the beauty that it holds is honest, absolute, and universal, yet simultaneously fleeting, quick to escape and slither away unless one deliberately searches and strains to grasp it. That you and this moment are infinite, but also small and forgettable in comparison the unfathomable scale and force of existence that surrounds you. That this one, singular moment, this connection with nature, with the exotic, will bring both immense joy, but also an insatiable yearning for more.
It is this unsatisfied yearning for the exotic which so abruptly crept into my TV-binging self earlier today, leaving me feel both unbelievably spoiled with the richness of the experiences that I have been able to participate in, and guiltily dissatisfied with my current state of being. Oh, wanderlust, you capricious little devil. I have had the fortune to experience the exotic, but also have been ailed with its little known, ill-fated side effect of the average life seeming a bit bland and monochromatic in comparison. I have a routine. I wake up to the same alarm each morning, eat the same five things each day (I try to fool my brain into thinking that I am eating a larger variety of foods by switching up the pairs, but there are only so many ‘fruit-cereal–pasta-chocolate-some form of protein’ pairings that you can make), brush my hair (optional), go for a jog if feeling inspired (so, never), read, read some more, watch TV, read while watching TV (bonus points for multi-tasking, right?), eventually throw on some presentable clothes, go to work, and then sleep. Lather, rinse, repeat. My life has become the antithesis of the exotic, it has become predictable, and there is nothing like the drudge of routine to make me feel both like a functioning, successful adult and a raving hypocrite to my inherent curious, artistic nature. I equate routine with the destruction of creativity, and have yet to find a balance between the necessities/routines of life and the exotic/creative. So as I re-enter my life back home, it remains my goal to coalesce my two different lives, to merge my routine-centered American life with my art-centered travel life, searching for the beauty of stability, to find the exotic within the average.