Floating in the middle of Inle Lake on a long and narrow teak wooden boat, two Burmese locals and myself wait for the sun to rise over the eastern mountains. Nearby, a fisherman creeps by as he propels his boat forward with a unique leg rowing style that is both an ancient practice as well as an efficient method for collecting his fish traps. He manages to balance on the front of his boat with one leg, row with the other as it straddles a paddle, follows his set of lines by hand and retrieves the fish traps while staying in a constant motion. What a sight to see…
Water gently slaps against the sides of our slim boat and not a word is spoken between us three. What a sound to hear…
I polish off a premade breakfast sandwich that one of the hostel workers had passed to me like a football hand off move as if I was going toward an endzone while I scurried out the front door towards the boat landing about 25 minutes ago.
I feel content, thankful and full of gratitude just as the thought of how random of an experience this is! Seriously, what are the chances of me being in the middle of a remote lake with absolute strangers in a handmade wooden boat on the other side of the globe in a completely foreign land? Was I asleep and dreaming?!
I pinch my left arm to make sure. As the sting wears off, the sun pokes out from behind the mountain peak…The beauty momentarily takes away my breathe as it begins to warm my skin. God am I lucky…
As the sun warms my surroundings and the mist evaporates, I reflect on my short visit through this country.
About 12 days ago, I had crossed the border from neighboring Thailand. There, I traveled for about 9 hours on a local bus as it passed through lands that looked like Africa and other lands of my dreams. I then spent a few days in a bustling tropical city where modernity is taking over the old ways of thinking and living. Then, I ventured through the ancient land of Pagodas and Temples along the Irrawaddy River in Bagan. Old ways of living seem to prevail amidst the new influx of tourism there. And here I was in the middle of Inle Lake, the location of the Intha ethnic group who have called this area home for thousands of years.
Check out part 1, part 2, or part 3 to see where I explored.
I experienced a few epiphanies travelling through this ancient land. I witnessed happy people, sad people, healthy people, sick people, lively people, dying people, greedy people, content people…those with more then enough, those with enough, and those with not enough…
What floods my mind this particular moment as we enjoy seeing the entire sky light up and turn blue is this concept of ‘enough.’
Days ago I had began looking inward and was really starting to ponder my mindset (previously not even realized) of consumption, gain, ambition, competition, desire for more, wanting the ‘latest and greatest’ version of any product or service, wanting the best, wanting to always win and get to the top of something that was somewhere within my future.
Personally, having that mindset takes me away from the present and often leads to some sort of pain or suffering either directly or indirectly. This mindset can help me get ahead in certain society’s. But in others, not so much.
All in all, all I really need is ‘enough.’ From my experience, it was now becoming important to me to live in the present moment. After all, that is all I have. Tomorrow is not even guaranteed. And this moment, and this day…I was going to enjoy.
My guide then cranks the engine and hits the throttle which snaps me out of my reverie. We glide over the calm waters of Inle Lake towards shore to visit a hectic morning market that surrounds a huge golden Buddhist temple.
I hope you enjoy these pics.