Starting out, one might feel ‘discovering a city’ is a vague sentence. Instead, it is the opposite: it has meanings on different levels and can be looked at in various perspectives. I have found four. Discovering a city has four sides, on four different planes and all four equally important. In the epiphany of it all, one may not realize that discovering a city has meanings on so many levels.
First is the physical discovery: the floating clouds, the towering trees, the gurgling, gushing waters, the wildlife, and sometimes, the buildings; Man’s feats, the colossal buildings, buildings ages old still archaic and leaving us wondering how people of the past achieved it all. Nature’s feats still amaze us all; but how the people of the past managed to build those striking architectural structures come a close second. The physical beauty of a city : that’s the first plane on which you can discover a city.
Second, is the culture of it, the feel of it, and the people of it: simply put, the heart of it. Any city has a most intriguing history, if we have the time to look into it. The folklore’s, the festivals, the beliefs: are simply amazing to discover. People say one can never know the ocean fully; I say one can never know anything fully – a city is as complex; or maybe more; than an ocean and no matter how long one lives there, how much one tries to find out, how much one loves it – it remains, mostly an unfathomable entity.
Third, and what I feel is the most important plane, is the changes the city makes in you. For with every part of the city you discover, you discover a part of yourself. These, above all, are the most important discoveries. For what is life, but a journey into yourself and towards your core? With every new thing you find in the city: you come to know a part of yourself you never knew existed. Went para-sailing for the first time? You liked it? That’s a discovery, not just that the city has good para-sailing opportunities, but that you like it, and you never knew it till now. It may make a big difference in your life, it may not. But it remains an important discovery of yourself.
Fourth, and perhaps the most interesting, is rediscovery. Heraclitus said, “You can never cross the same stream twice”. It’s always changing, and so are you. Rediscovering a city is a beautiful experience: in part, you feel you’ve known it well because you’ve seen it change. It’s like reading a book the second time and finding deeper meanings in words, which you never realized before. The city, similarly, is always changing, always in flux and if you give a long enough gap between your visits, you would almost feel it’s a different city altogether.
So, if you find yourself frustrated, caught in life’s twisted (yet sometimes beautiful) alleys, go take a vacation, discover a city, discover yourself and discover that there’s always so much to discover!