Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Puzzle of a Journey

Union Square IN San Francisco, California
Wikimedia Commons: Benson Kua
Yesterday, I sat in a room with 3,000 other individuals; and while this seems like an extremely claustrophobic situation, I assure you that we were all seated quite comfortably – some in the floor seating, some in the balcony. As the various notes and tones of Yo-Yo Ma soared through the auditorium and sauntered through my ears, I began to think: how did I get here? The obvious answer is that I had been driven through downtown Sacramento, dropped off in front of the Memorial Auditorium, and given a balcony ticket; but, I am not talking about that am I? My memories brought me back to the day that had submitted my application for the Context Travel scholarship. I knew what I was looking for – an opportunity to delve into a foreign culture and increase my knowledge of the world around me – or so I thought. However, this process has taught me a subtle lesson – don’t judge a book by its cover! Paris is known as the city of lights, and to me it was the brewing grounds for the notorious French Revolution as well as a world-renown pompous cuisine. However, hours of research highlighted more subtle and back-alley events, such as the building of a mock Paris during World War I.

Wikimedia Commons: Toffel (own work)
Slowly, I began to learn that there were more jewels, such as art and opera, hidden under the rugged surface of Parisian history. In addition, traveling to San Francisco allowed me to experience the city at a more personal level. Sure, I was traveling with a group; but at the same time I found myself alone and entranced, as each sight presented its garments of brick, wood, marble, and Shanghai collectables. Strolling through San Francisco’s Little Italy, Chinatown, and Vietnamese corridors and standing in the city’s Catholic cathedral and Union square showed me that I had only viewed San Francisco as an everyday city, something it was not. This reality check has helped me to assess my actions in my personal life. I quickly found that I had been criticizing my circumstances based on a general stereotype rather than looking for the positive aspects. Wow! Now, I found myself under the voice of the great Yo-Yo Ma, the last piece to this puzzle-of-a-journey. He believes that the secret to all of his musical fame and acclamation is the fact that he “found the code” within his music. In other words, Ma went directly past the technicality of the musical piece to access the emotion and the “words” behind it. In my everyday life, that means purposely looking for the positive in my circumstances; for only then, as Yo-Yo puts it, will “I find meaning.”

Panorama of San Francisco
Wikimedia Commons: JohanSonn (own work)


Post a Comment