A sweaty glistening, oily, almost creamy forehead.
The symphony of smells that come from the clothes you've worn, four days too many.
The constant presence of sand on your legs, your ears, your towel, your pockets, your beds, everything.
Blistered toes and continuously opening cuts where your flip flops meet your big toe.
The salty sting of sweat hitting your eyes, because your eyebrows just can't keep up.
Feeling the weakness of a body that hasn't trained in weeks.
The dampness of a towel that just hasn't had a fair chance to properly dry.
The coarseness of hair touched by saltwater and sand (This one feels pretty great).
These have been common feelings of the last couple weeks. Sometimes they're constant, ever present.
But. So often, they just fade to the background. They go from being a constant thought, to an itch, to an ignorable speck in the corner of your mind. They get replaced by the feeling of the wind touchIng your skin as you ride a Tuk Tuk. The feeling of sand caressing your fingers. The sound of the waves outside of the boat. The smooth feeling of the wooden boat beneath your feet. The smiles and laughs of those you're surrounded by.
Back home, the weather is a constant thought. The cold almost burning sensation of the winter wind on your face. The remnant numbness of cold on your skin, even though you've been indoors for fifteen minutes.
For some reason, here, it's faded away. Maybe it's because we're feeling and experiencing so much? We're constantly surrounded by newness, so maybe our minds don't fixate on the negative.
Or maybe it's because we're choosing to pay attention to the important things, and that those things are present, every day, at home even in the heart of winter.
Stop and look
Have you ever driven up to a viewpoint, gotten out of the car iPhone in hand. Mindlessly snapped away at what was in front of you from any and every angle you could think of. Gotten back in the car and realized that you had no idea what you had seen? Or worse, didn't realize it at all/until it was filtered and saturated on Instagram?
I have. It's gross and embarrassing to think about.
I've instated a rule that I've been following out here. Fifteen seconds. I must look, see, let myself encounter a place before taking any pictures. Fifteen seconds before I can flick the camera on.
And there are some places, that are better left unphotographed because everything that was important about the place had nothing to do with what I saw.
We constantly seek permanence. To record things. To take pictures to write them down. It's because we're afraid of the impermanent. But sometimes, when we're so enveloped in nailing things and experiences down, we forget to truly experience them.
There's a world out there for you to see, and there's a universe for you to encounter.
I've learnt the importance of closing my eyes.
Of getting to know the island of Ko Phi Phi by the way the sand feels under my bare feet.
Listening to the cacophony of sound that lights up a night outside of Khao Yai national park.
Tasting the richness of Oh Chien (fried oyster omelette) from a man who's been cooking only that dish at the same food stall in Penang for 30 years.
There's a whole universe to encounter, if all you do is see with your eyes you miss out on so much.