18 August 2017

What's The Meaning of Life

As the day of my departure to Indonesia is drawing nearer by the hours, I found myself staring blankly at the streets below, questioning myself ‘What’s the meaning of life?’

True, in all its cliché, corny notion, I found myself wondering if the reason I’m traveling and hiking and generally exploring the world is a means for me to decipher the meaning of life. 

Mount Kerinci awaits me a few thousand kilometers away. I imagine the cold winds of the mountain, pelting mercilessly at me while I hike the slope. My imagination of the cold sensation brought me back to the memory of Korea, 8 years ago. 

It was winter, with a record low of negative twelve degrees in Celsius. Everything moves fast in Korea, even the evening arrives earlier. 

Walking down the streets alone at night, I marveled at how different life in Malaysia seems. Everything moves fast in Malaysia too, but the people seems to be enjoying life more. The first snow arrives while I was outside walking on the pavement, I looked upon the sky and tiny flakes of frozen water befell my skin.

It was tiny and fragile, definitely lighter than feather. But within the lightness of the snow I was finding a new reason to celebrate life as I was reaching another milestone of my journey. Experience snow fall: checked.

I saw the university soccer team practicing on the field in the morning and they wore extra layers of clothing. I thought it was peculiar, almost silly. But I couldn’t pinpoint what’s so funny about what I saw that I was in disagreement with. You should’ve stayed inside during the winter, I thought of them. 

The hallway always smells like coffee, no matter which building you are in. There would always be some person carrying coffee cup at one time, usually girls with muffler around their necks. The guys always wear round shaped glasses and The North Face black jacket, you couldn’t tell them apart.

Still, within this homogeneity, I could not decipher the meaning of life. It was another definition of life that I wasn’t aware of, but it was not the meaning I was looking for. 

Life moves fast here in Korea, even the bus arrives earlier than their schedule. This is how they live life, how they seek their meaning of life. Through repetition of their routine they figured life is a constant action day by day, and they lived in full understanding that that this is how it should be, and being good at it means punctuality is expected. There is really no endgame, just daily basis reality. 

Last year, when I first experience extreme cold in Malaysia, it was on a mountain. Unlike in Korea, I wasn’t enjoying this milestone at all. I was trembling, I was in shock. My body couldn’t understand what was happening – one minute it was sweating profusely and the next when I stopped, the wetness of the sweat on the shirt absorbs the cold of the mountain atmosphere.

Three weeks later, I hiked the three mountains called Yong Yap – Bubu – Tok Nenek, one of them being one of the seven highest peaks in Peninsula Malaysia. Still, what’s the meaning of life?

I thought I found it when I was lunging for air, my body craves achingly for oxygen. It was at that moment I realized that there are sensations that I never thought existed could be felt by my body. Extreme exhaustion. Extreme thirst.

But it was not it. So I was still searching for it, when my mundane routine life consumes me. I was trapped within the confusion of trying to find the meaning of life and giving my life a meaning. 

I thought if I pursued my study perhaps I would find it. Almost, but not quite.   

And as I am still staring the streets down below, I’m wondering if Kerinci is another piece of the puzzle. The 3,805 meters above sea level volcano would be my first giant hike this year, and that makes the journey a poignant, profound one. 

My flight is 6 hours away, and I am now fighting a war in my mind.

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