Friday, January 26, 2007

The Soul of a Traveller

Tunner (Campbell Scott): We're probably the first tourists they've had since the war.

Kit Moresby (Debra Winger): Tunner, we're not tourists. We're travellers.

Tunner: Oh. What's the difference?

Port Moresby (John Malkovich): A tourist is someone who thinks about going home the moment they arrive, Tunner.

Kit Moresby: Whereas a traveller might not come back at all...

- The Sheltering Sky, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci

We are all travellers, because there's no turning back in life. You only pass this way once. Every experience in life, no matter how small, changes you in subtle ways. If you are conscious of each momentary change, then you'll learn to distill the lesson behind every experience, behind every sight and sound.

We all experience life in different ways: Each one of us could be looking at the same painting, but our impressions will be very different. There's no experience that's common to all.

We could all be watching the same soccer match and supporting the same team, but the effect of the experience--be it the ecstasy of victory or the humiliation of defeat--produces different karmic consequences, different lessons, to each one of us.

If you have the mentalilty of a tourist, you'd treat each sight and sound like a photographic snapshot to be permanently stored in the storehouse of your memory, to be recalled and savoured again as and when you choose to.

But if you are a traveller, each experience is like a death and a rebirth. You are no longer a collector of memories; you are a soul in continuous transformation.

Your life at any moment in time is the sum total of all your past experiences. At any moment in time, you are a new person, reborn from the previous moment--the fulfilment of your past karma.

Sometimes, we mistakenly think that we are tourists: we meet a friend, go to a movie, enjoy a good meal and then go back to our regular lives. We will only bother to pause and reflect when we encounter an accident or something unexpected. And we call that a "life-changing" experience.

If we'd care to observe, every experience in life is a life-changing experience simply because we can never go back to the previous moment anymore. You are not the person you were when you first started reading this blog entry. If you have the soul of a traveller, you'll understand what I mean.

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