A tourist in my own town
I rediscover my own city – it’s a wonderful place to explore as a tourist. Seek less, find more.
Many years ago I read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. It is the story of Santiago, a young Andalusian shepherd boy, who, while sleeping near a mighty sycamore tree, dreamed that he was told to travel to find treasure. [Spoiler alert; skip this paragraph if you haven’t yet read The Alchemist! Read it, then come back! ] He sets out and goes far and wide, meets interesting people and learns valuable lessons. Although he does not find what he was originally seeking, the experience is rewarding. Eventually Santiago’s journey ends and he returns home. Going to the tree where his dream occurred, he digs and to his surprise he finds the treasure.
Seek less, find more
With the festive and holiday season upon us, attention may have turned to the possibility of a holiday in an exotic destination with swaying palm trees, and golden sun caressing our skin. For others the lure of a colder climate where snow falls, covering the earth under a blanket of white, may have brought that wonderful feeling of anticipation. Regardless of the destination, travel takes preparation and fills the traveller with hope of new experiences.
Seek less, find more.
I have come to realise that treasures can often be found at home. Recently I decided that I would become a tourist in my own city. On a sunny day I put on my walking shoes, left the car in the garage, got on the bus – destination CBD. (Central Business District)
Seek less, find more.
With map in hand, grid outlined and enough money to eat, drink and explore, my adventure began. I had nothing but time and the day stretched out tantalisingly before me. My first stop was a cathedral, magnificent in architecture and imposing in size. People were weaving their way in and out. Inside the silence was glorious, the mood reverent and worshippers praying. It seemed like the right place to start – a place to give thanks for my blessings. In the space I heard my own quiet voice saying, “seek less, find more.”
Despite a cool start, the morning sun was warm and so I walked and walked peering into doorways and windows. And then, there it was. Tucked away in an opulent arcade was a cafe that was to become my next stop. This place was not unfamiliar to me, having been introduced to it in my teens; a place where the cakes adorn the front window and the tea is served traditionally as it should be – a cup, saucer and a teapot. This was to be one of many stops and perhaps the most memorable, as it gave me the opportunity to cast my mind back to my youth and the lovely times spent with my now deceased aunt, whose words I could hear and spirit I could feel. In the elegance of the room I sipped my tea and reminisced. Seek less, find more.
With a sense of wanting to discover the unknown I began my slow exploration of laneways and small shops previously not known. I became more attuned to sounds, sights and smells. Wafting smell of coffee, tiny spaces, jostling, broken sentences, snippets, car horns, a cacophony, a symphony, the city’s song.
The stories from long ago could be heard from between the bricks and mortar of each historic building. Year nine history class came to mind, but now the lesson was an experience and not just words on a page. The monuments scattered around the parks were a legacy of people whose hard work and sweat had paved the way for others to have a better life. Their message was clear; ‘Don’t forget us, we toiled so you could have rights not given to us.’ A reminder that each generation has to fight for a better outcome. I looked not just with new eyes but listened with an open heart to what the city was telling me: “seek less, find more”.
I knew I could not see it all in one day so I decided to finish on a high and venture to the tallest building and view magnificence from up above. And from there I had a bird’s eye view, and saw the big picture which was so very lovely.
The day was ending and as I looked out upon the wonders of my city I remembered William Wordsworth’s poem, composed upon Westminster Bridge in 1802. He wrote;
“Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This city now doth, like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare…”
With dusk descending from up above, I too saw my beautiful city as would a tourist – mighty, vivid, pulsing and filled with treasure. A holiday destination for the spirit, soul and senses.
Seek less, find more.