After sending emails to relevant individuals before I plunge into an intense 10-day UNESCO conference, I again felt the need to to sit down and be in my paradise zone. Today is another last day in Singapore. Like many other last days before taking a plunge for adventure, I am in deep thought, being fully aware of my emotions, hoping to decipher the meaning of these few seconds. I again will embark on a journey, or rather continue one as I see the fulfilment of a dream.
In 2012, I decided to take a journey to quit my job and fulfil a long time yearning for a masters degree and with that decision came the embrace of new ideas, experiences and seeing life in a different perspective. I initially felt scared leaving my comfort zone to decipher who I want to become. However after sometime, these emotions settled down and I became comfortable again with my own skin and I moved forward the connecting with people who are just like myself, passionate about the cultures of the world. Along the way, I have gathered new skills, for example, reading dense books on culture and sociology, discussing how local people adjust with challenges of the modern world, academically debating with international students from parts of the world I can’t even pinpoint in a map, learning to research more scientifically and lastly, becoming comfortable living in places where English was not the native language.
I spent almost two months here in Singapore at our lovely home with my partner and our two dogs, with my days filled with readings on cultural, historical and landscape matters for my final academic work. Hours pass with me huddled in a corner and all that I exercise is my brain and my fingers, churning up data on possible strategies to make historic places more relevant to people. You might think, that is such a boring life! but you know what, I feel that learning about heritage and culture actually makes me sharper, makes me look under the surface and it makes me connect far better with the people around me. I now see that everything has a certain meaning, our buildings, our traditions, our clothing, our language, our politics and all that we see are linked to something intangible. I feel more mesmerised with the world than ever before.
By tomorrow I will be in the middle east, in a dessert city I have only visited in transit to Europe. I will be going to a political and cultural conference on heritage, the biggest and most important one there is, and I will be part of a delegation advocating the conservation of nature. I would never have dreamed being in such a situation before my World Heritage Studies. It seems to me that the world has revealed something that I have never admitted, the world chooses where one should go. I try my best in what I do but it is fate that moves me forward and my life, dreams and future are dependent on so much more forces than myself. I am happy to now believe in such philosophy. The last few months have been such as a blessing to me and I am honest enough to say that I don’t know where life will take me. My task for the moment is to do “my job” everyday, maximising the capacity of fate to pick the best choice.
As Oprah Winfrey rightfully said to the graduating students of Harvard University in 2013, “You will find true success and happiness if you only have one goal, and that is this, to fulfil the highest, most truthful expression of yourself as a human being.” She yearns students to maximise their humanity by using their energy to lift themselves up and the people around. She also quoted the theologian Howard Thurman, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive then go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
I believe that this masters has made me feel more alive.