Random Observation/Comment #156: In planning for my trip to London, I had many day trips that were labeled as “just in case it rained.” This made up half of the days I planned (for good statistical reasons), but I never fathomed such clear skies for my stay. The weather was a phenomenon and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to walk around and take pictures, instead of locking myself inside a few museum exhibitions. This is just more evidence that planning, at the level I’ve brought it (which deems many to ask me, “why are you even going if you’ve already google-mapped everything and looked at all the corresponding pictures?”), is overrated.
I fully took advantage of the weather by attending walking tours and wandering the city with an open mind. I use the term “wander” often to mean just aimlessly walking, but in this case, I was in good company and had the underlying time-restraint of attending the Westminster Abbey free service at 5PM. The path I took was new and fascinating, and I consider it a plausible date-trip for nice weather.
Starting around 1PM, we walked from the Shakespeare Center to the Tate modern and crossed the Millennium Bridge towards St Paul’s Cathedral. The pictures flowed instinctively, but since I attended the Old City of London Tour the day before, I became the tour guide and repeated many of the memorable stories about the area. I was surprised that I had seen and learned more about London in 3 days than most of the local Londoners. In fact, most tourists visiting New York probably know more about the history through the NYC free tours than I do.
This tourists-local contrast in attitudes has become an overarching theme in my observations throughout my travels. I’m always surprised at how much we change when we feel this obligation to absorb the new culture and life around us in a foreign land. When our time in a new country is limited to a few days, we seem to open our eyes and live with much more of a passion. The time in our lifetimes is limited: Why must we wait until the last minute before we realize that life is short? I wish this flame burning behind my eyes continues and are not smothered by routine and repetition. Shouldn’t everything be interesting? Isn’t life wonderful?
Anyway, I digress. My path detection algorithm heading towards the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey was mainly governed by pretty colors, photo opportunities, and the traffic signals. I knew the general destination, but the specific streets just blend together when you’re having in-depth conversations. The cool breeze and warm sun made this walk immensely enjoyable. My list of tasks was empty and I felt my main purpose in the moment was to enjoy the beauties of life. I wanted to reach my arms outward and just embrace the sunlight. I grinned like an idiot for seemingly no reason, but I think I knew it was for a deeper love of life. My mind raced with philosophical questions, but I tried my hardest to just be there. It’s been a long time since my mind, body, and soul has stayed within the same encasing – it’s flimsy, but it will have to do.
The photos with the setting sun behind the Houses of Parliament and across from the London Eye were breath-taking. I walked at a snail’s-pace with a cast on its… appendage. If a snail wore shoes, I would be that snail with shackles around them. Maybe a more appropriate analogy: I walked like the typical Californian – 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. This was my favorite day in London.
~See Lemons Lucky