When lighted by the morning sun the gorgeous chasm is an immense bowl of lace and filigree work in stone, colored with the white of frost and the pinks of glowing embers. To those who have not forgotten the story books of childhood it suggests a playground for fairies. In another aspect it seems a smoldering inferno where goblins and demons might dwell among flames and embers.” – The Union Pacific System,
There are three types of people in this world: those who see the world with wonder, those who see it through the lens of cynicism, and those who see it with a bit of both.
Before I moved to Korea for the first time, I was in a dark place. I hated my job, hated the town I lived in, and — quite honestly — hated the person I saw myself becoming. I was 23, and I was drowning in cynicism.
Over the course of the next year, Korea cast a spell on me. As stress melted away, new friends grew closer, and my bitterness dissipated, I rediscovered a feeling I’d all but forgotten: wonder. I remembered what it was like to be utterly fascinated by something, and to get swept away by that fascination. Since then, I’ve tried to hang on to that sense of wonder. There have been ups and downs, but I’ve never gotten as low as that first part of 2011. Traveling has been a key factor in that change for me.
Fast forward to the spring of 2015 — my friend Brandon and I found ourselves walking the Peekaboo Loop trail around the bowl of the Amphitheater in Bryce Canyon National Park. Hoodoos towered around us, whittled down by incessant erosion over the ages. That day, neither of us were men in their mid-20s headed back to our 9-5s that coming Monday. That day, we were like children, gazing in wonder at the surreal landscape around us.
As the quote at the start of this post says, it seemed like a playground for fairies, a wonderland pulled from the pages of fantasy. But this, this was real.
The legend surrounding that place is dark, in stark contrast to the beauty visible for miles. It concerns the Legend People, a race who lived long before the Paiute walked the canyon floors. They were giants, and they were cruel and greedy. They ate past the point of satisfaction, took for the sake of taking, and cared nothing for the plants and animals they shared the land with. The trickster god, Coyote, saw this and took action.
He invited the Legend People to a grand feast. They came and filled the canyon with finery, decked out in beautiful clothes and striking warpaint. As they sat down to feast, Coyote put a terrible curse on them which would turn them all to stone.
But for someone who has experienced the cynicism that exists in this world, those moments of wonder are infinitely more precious.
How about you? Would you say you’re prone to wonder or cynicism? Has traveling (or something else) affected how you live your life? Let me know in the comments below!