This work is a product of the author’s participation in the Writing Blitz, an event conducted during Treehouse and tStudios Showcase in Recess Week earlier this semester. During the event, writers were invited to try writing in parts of the college that were not typically used for writing either as subjects or spaces of the act.
“3, 2, 1, go!”
When my tandem skydiving instructor pushed me out of the plane, I thought I was jumping into my grave. It didn’t help that my instructor was showing us videos of skydiving accidents beforehand. Fortunately, I survived the first thirty seconds of free fall until my instructor opened the safety parachute. Knowing that I wouldn’t be meeting the grim reaper yet, I heaved a sigh of relief and started to enjoy the experience. With the cold wind brushing against my face, I was presented with a breathtaking aerial view of the land. Appreciating the vastness of the land below made me realize how insignificant my problems were. After I had safely descended, my best friend told me: “Rose, I can’t believe that you would actually do this with me in California. Back in Singapore, you are so restrained!”
It’s true. In Singapore, there are many things I wouldn’t try. However, when I travel, I am much more adventurous. Being in a completely new and foreign physical space alters my body chemistry. It wears away my inhibitions, allowing me to be open to risks and uncertainties. It also encourages me to be receptive to new ideas by challenging the values I grew up with.
Two years ago, I visited a provincial jail in Dumaguete, Philippines. The inmates were treated very humanely. For example, they were addressed by their names instead of serial numbers and had the autonomy to run small businesses. I engaged myself in their conversations and learnt that many of them committed crimes out of poverty. Growing up in Singapore has instilled a strong sense of justice in me. I’ve always believed that the culprits should get their due punishment. I never questioned the use of capital or corporal punishment. This could be possibly attributed to my faith in our justice system to prosecute the right culprits. However, after speaking to the inmates, I started to explore the idea that they are not culprits but victims of their circumstances.
Now back to something more lighthearted. Travelling is a magical experience. It takes you to surreal spaces where you get to discover something new about yourself. When I was in Zimbabwe, I trekked up to the ‘danger point’ of Victoria Falls National Park. The ‘danger point’ is the furthest edge of a rocky promontory that is situated opposite the Victoria Falls. Although standing on top of the ‘danger point’ meant I was treading on a fine line between life and death, it provided the best view. In front of me sat the Victoria Water falls on its throne. It was shrouded by a thick mist, giving credence to its reputation as “The Smoke that Thunders”. In fact, I was drenched from head to toe. To complement its beauty, two perfectly arched rainbows hung in mid-air, adjacent to the waterfalls. It has never occurred to me before, but I thought to myself about how blessed I was to be endowed with the sense of sight.
Travelling has taught me to ‘see the world as it is, not as we are’. By simply embracing a different culture, we are putting aside our ego. I refer to ego as our deep rooted concept of how the world should be like. When that happens, we develop empathy and truly appreciate the diversity that our world offers. So…if you’ve won last week’s Toto prize, please spend some of it on travelling to a country you haven’t been to before. Be assured that you will return wealthier in new experiences and wisdom.
About the Author
Rosamund thinks singing is the best outlet to express her emotions. She speaks with a slight lisp and enjoys seeing her friends pursue their passions.