Sunday, September 12, 2021

Walk towards the Mountain


        (Fossil from the Natural History Museum of Utah)

Twenty-one months have passed since I last traveled. And I am on the road again, finally. 

Like many others, I ever thought 2021 would end the pandemic and bring the world back to order. Who dares to predict that living with the pandemic becomes new normalcy. Yet, on Labor Day weekend, the Delta variants of COVID hit a new record. In this background, I made my first travel during the pandemic. I was nervous since I could not bear the risk of spreading the exposure to my infant baby and the toddler. For two times, I almost wanted to give up the trip and asked the seminar organizer to switch to the virtual format. 

I am glad that I still made the journey. 

It is memorable. 

"Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light."

Like my paper has argued, human physical interactions are important and cannot be substituted by virtual ones. It is true not only for collecting soft information but also for experiencing life. Before this trip to Utah, I had not thought about life could be so simple, close to nature, and passionate. Over the years, I have lived in big cities like Washington DC, New York City, and even earlier, Chicago and Shanghai. The city culture is always sophisticated, so does the city life and city dwellers. Here in Salt Lake City, however, life is different. At least, it is a city where mountains are always in the vision anywhere you go. 

(Rainbow near the University Guest House, with mountains in the distance)

Being able to travel again is so wonderful. It forces me away from my DC routines, thus offering fresh and distant observations on my life in the pandemic. Like what I have experienced from other journeys, this trip also helps me identify what is truly important and valuable in life --- When one is stranded in routines, those important and valuable become blurred, masked, and even inundated by daily activities.

Traveling also introduces me to an alternative life of others on the road. Can you imagine going hiking after work with colleagues? Even better, to have a beer afterward? Can you imagine hiking and mountain biking every week? Let alone live in the mountain with a million dollars view. Can you even imagine having skiing clubs to babysit your children? Yet, this is what can happen in Salt Lake City, at least for some of my local friends. No doubt, this is a totally different life from DC or NYC, a life I have never imagined before!

I have half-day leisure time and thought I could visit some museums, as I always do in other cities. Matt kindly drove me around near my lodging and suggested his favorite trail, short but scenic with mountain views and a happy companion of a creek. 

                             (view on the trail)

By the end of the trail, I followed the sound of the creek and unexpectedly embarked on another trail, the one towards the mountain peak. When I climbed all the way to the hilltop, the world became so tranquil that I could hear my heartbeats; I could feel the pleasant touch of the wind, and I overlooked the city and saw more mountains on the other side. 

       (View from the hilltop, the overlook of the city)

     (Vegetation on the trail towards the mountain peak)

(Stones at one exit of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, located in front of the Natural History Museum of Utah.)

Before dropping me at the hotel, Matt told me, "you will not miss the path. The mountain is over there. Just walk towards the mountain, and you will find the way to enter it."

Yes, the mountain is there! The most important and valuable things in life that are worth lifelong effort, patience, and passion to go after. We may feel puzzled, get lost, and make detours. But they are there. Just walk towards the mountain! 

Thank you, my friends, for an inspiring journey! 

Photographed by Jennie Bai.
                       Copyright ©Jennie Bai. All Rights Reserved.

Related articles: 

Utah -- Hoodoos! 

Montana - The Journey of Understanding

Abisko - Arctic 'Adventure'

Thursday, February 11, 2021

冬去春又来 - Spring 2021

The winter of 2020 is very long... One could hardly see the faint gleam of light at the end of the tunnel, the ending of pandemic. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, ... and Spring. Four seasons alternate, but my heart remains on tenterhooks.

T.S. Eliot said in his poem East Coker: wait without hope.

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith 
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting. 
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: 
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

Look at these winter buds... Spring can wait. 

(Source: Instagram account, winterbuds0123)







不加思索地等待吧, 因为你没有做好思索的准备,



是的呢,自然力的一切都是悄悄、慢慢,有节奏地往前走。知道离暖和的春天还有些日子,但迎面的风已变得温柔,我们已在春天里, 这就安心了。

(Source: Instagram account, winterbuds0123)