As I write this post on a bus to Arlanda Airport, it is with true sorrow that I proclaim this to be my very last update from the land of welfare and clean energy. Later tonight we’ll be boarding our plane back to Beijing, from where we’ll then board another plane back home.
There is something bittersweet about the Sweden I see passing by, in all its autumn hues, impossible names, the sky all kinds of crazy, whirling beautiful. It will be a long time until I am back in this land, if ever, and the realization that what I’ve just begun to know so well is about to be lost is… well, it’s heartbreaking. But with every end is a new beginning, and as I return to Hong Kong as a person more interesting and whole than I was when I left, I can’t help but look forward to settling into the familiar routine and anticipating what old things will seem new and wonderful upon my return.
And that’s the beautiful thing about travel: it allows us to adopt a fresh mindset with which we can face — and conquer — the trials and tribulations of the everyday. Equipped with the knowledge that there are bigger, better things in the world beyond the scope of our own neighborhoods, we become more resilient in the face of frustration, disappointment, and despair. We develop the ability to put our problems and ambitions into perspective, so we may become more humble in our dealings with those beside us. Ultimately it is humility that sets the foundation for a happy life: when we give ourselves up to the ways of the world, realize that there exists a greater meaning beyond the trivialities we inflict upon ourselves, we become more cognizant of what matters in the end and, thus, we attempt to shift our focus away from the insignificant to the meaningful. Sure, it all sounds very idealistic; oftentimes the joyous and melancholic drunkenness of post-travel syndrome, with all its happy-go-lucky ways, only lasts for a few days at best, a few hours at worst. But in the moments of our fresh mindedness we often make realizations, create art, spark conversations that then affect us in the long-term, and it is for this self-improvement that many choose to pack their bags and explore the world.
As for me, I’m happy where I am. Although I do love what I’ve seen so far of Scandinavia, and although there are many, many more things to learn, I’m relieved we’re on our way home. I’m relieved because I know that however much I engross myself in the world of Scandinavia, it’ll never be mine. Even if I tried to possess it through all the days and poetry in the world, I’ll never fully belong to the realities of Scandinavia, whereas I am clearly at home — and belong — in the reality of Hong Kong. I hunger for that feeling of familiarity, in which I’ll truly be able to be a real person, in permanent form, instead of the shape-shifting mind and body of a traveler. In my permanent form I’ll be able to apply all the lessons I’ve learnt on this simple trip and build the person I aspire to be.
And so the journey home begins.
Sweden, Denmark: it was a pleasure. Thank you for the beauties, the insights; the moments both ecstatic and melancholic.
Hong Kong: so we meet again. It’s fine time to start afresh.