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A Whole New World

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American novelist and painter Henry Miller said “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” I had a new way of seeing things once I visited the Petra in Jordan in 2007. The Petra is one of the 8 wonders of the world because of its enchanting structure. The Petra is a vast, unique city, carved into the sheer rock face by Arabs more than 2000 years ago. I visited the Petra with family that lived in Jordan over summer vacation. What I really liked about the Petra was that it reminded me that our idea of “civilization” or “society” doesn’t just apply to present day. I think it’s beautiful to be reminded that humans, almost 2,000 years ago built theaters to entertained in, homes to live in, pools to bathe in, and even shops to shop at.

During the first half of my trip in the petra, we walked through the greek-like theaters with enough seats to probably support a football crowd. I remember how my older brother and I would use what little effort we had left from all the walking in the scorching 90 degree weather to see how high up the seats we could climb. First, when standing on the stage and looking up out at the vast audience, you could see a person or two scattered in every which way. It looked like some gave up climbing to the top half way while others enjoyed the view. At first it was a race to see which one of us could jump the fasted over the seats to the top of the theater. As always, my brother would dash in front of me literally leaving dust and rubble to hit my sun-burnt face. Even though I knew I couldn’t beat him to the top, I still continued to jump as fast as my burned-out legs would allow me..probably because growing up with 3 brothers, you tend to be a little competitive. Once I made the top though, I knew all that effort was worth it. At first I just wanted to lay down and catch my breathe but one I saw my brother mesmerized by the view, I knew I had to look. For it would of been useless for me to wait to catch my breathe because this view, was breathtaking.

Some of my younger siblings, by the way, I could see tired to imitate us but only made it a few rows up before giving up. Not only could I see my family at the bottom of the theater, but I could see miles across the dry, dessert-like land. I could make out crowds of people walking, even some on camels. I could see the giant red mountains beautifully placed as if in a painting. I could see the plethora of beautifully carved mausoleums, or tombs created by these mysterious Arabs years ago. It was a sight pictures or even videos could not capture. This is a place where you have to walk the miles, climb the endless rows of stairs, to experience what was truly a majestic view. What made it even more magical was looking at the reactions of the people around me who saw a similar view. These tourists I recognized from all parts of the world, from China,, the U.S., Russia, Africa, some where even from Australia and traveled hours upon hours for this view. But by looking at their expressions, looking at their similarly exchaused and sun-burnt faces, they knew, as did I, that it was worth it. That moment when we all exchanged looks, we realized that the look was the same. Despite our language, our culture, our backgrounds, we all were united by something brilliant. Our looks of astonishment and admiration for a wonder created thousands of years ago by humans, just like us reminded us. It reminded us what humans were capable of. These humans generations ago lacked what we hold so closely to us today but succeeded in creating a masterpiece in this sweltering weather. This influenced us, prided us, motivated us, to want to do the same. No, not go carve a city out of rock, but to make the most out of our human existence. To maybe, someday, somehow, be able to take the breathe away of another being just like how our breathes were held from us. So this new way of seeing things for me, just as Miller mentioned, was indeed a destination. It stared as a location at the Petra, but I know it will not end because I also believe that with every wonder of the world, every country, every destination I travel to, I will encounter a new way of seeing things bigger and better than the one before.





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