“So, is that all you’re looking for?” asked the cashier at the bookstore I was in along Lan Kwai Fong.
“Oh, yes! I’m very happy with this. Thank you for taking the time to talk a while!” I beamed at her while waving the bag that had the journal I just bought in it.
“You know what? Your trip would’ve been happy with company,” she sighed.
“But I already am happy!” I assured her.
Over the years, I have collected a library of stories from family, friends and even strangers about their adventures and misadventures in different countries. “I just want to forget”, “I want to be happy again” and “I feel like I’m alive again” are just some of the reasons I hear a lot. All these reasons point to a common goal – the pursuit of happiness.
This solo trip I took to Hong Kong has indeed caused me much happiness and has made me address certain residual pain I had from loose ends in my life I never knew I still had hanging around. Yes, walking the streets of Kowloon and scouring the shops for vintage finds in South Hollywood has made me come alive like never before. Engaging with the locals and establishing friendships with them has made me see that there really is so much more to life beyond the comforts of the familiar and the habitual.
Truly, unspeakable joy is present when traveling. But here’s a question to ponder on – what happens to us when we’re not traveling? Do we lose the fire in our eyes? Does joy escape us and leave us hanging out to dry?
If we stay put, will we ever find happiness again? Is happiness something to find elsewhere? Is happiness really a place to seek out, go to or chase after?
We, breathing beings, come from different backgrounds – from upbringing to lifestyle to outlook – and I’m sure we have varied reasons for being spurred into traveling and exploring unfamiliar territory. In spite of this reality, a chunk of me feels that we pin our hopes too much on traveling to fill what’s empty and to find what we’ve long been looking for. No, I am not discounting or dismissing the peace, joy, and wisdom brought about by traveling – these are authentic sensations and realizations I myself have experienced. What I’m trying to say is that if you can’t find happiness where you are right now, then it’s no guarantee you’d find it elsewhere.
I believe that happiness is not a project. Joy is not something you have to work for or run after. Traveling may be a venue for you to acknowledge your joy, but ultimately, it has long been lingering in you. All you have to do is to make a decision to see and live with that joy. So, search that heart. Open that soul.
So, have you found it yet?