I've been to paradise, but I've never been to me.
He tried to intuit the presence of a greater spirit in Taj Mahal.
On the peak of Da Nang's Marble Mountains, as clouds wafted by, he felt it. In Riskikesh's valleys, floating on the glacial waters of the Himalayan range, he felt it. In Cambodia's museum documenting the Pol Pot regime, where blackened skulls laid in neat rows, he felt it. On a bicycle drifting downhill, he felt it. In the midst of the emerald forests, as cicadas chimed, he felt it.
So, what was it?
It was this feeling of absolute contentment, this complete unawareness of self, this spiritual commune with a greater presence.
In English lessons a long time ago, he used to write "his amusement/anger/joy was beyond description" for every essay; it was poetic enough and could be used with slight revisions each time. Then, he did not understand what was truly "beyond description". Now, he has a better idea, albeit a sketchy one.
The feelings that were beyond description couldn't be explained with mere words. The emotions, their range, their nuances, they were too great to be encapsulated by alphabets.
It was the feeling of joy, of contentment, of the significance and insignificance of self. He felt beautiful, powerful. It wasn't because he was invulnerable and attractive; he wasn't and he knew this. But he was able to tap into the awareness of a greater spirit and draw strength from it.
It was disappointing to visit the Taj Mahal and be unable to feel an empowering sense of awe.
One of the Seven Wonders of the World. And he couldn't feel any wonder, the irony, the irony.
He didn't visit with the conscious expectation of experiencing the "feeling that were beyond descriptions". He did so with an unconscious expectation.
The marble mausoleum didn't evoke an intense awareness. It was a tomb for dead people, period.
He closed his eyes and sensed for the spiritual connection to a greater something. He struggled, ignoring the cacophonous tourists. (Erm, well, he was a tourist too, just not a noisy one.)
Anyway, the point was: he tried and succeeded. He sensed a murmuring of life beneath the vain facade of Taj Mahal.
Perhaps, there is a spiritual dimension to every object and event.
Arts heighten this awareness by reflecting on the human condition. Novel experiences challenge the tired equilibrium. They perturb and point to the presence of a greater unifying spirit.
If he tried hard enough, he no longer has to seek adventures on foreign lands just to taste that intoxicating cocktail. He could - in theory and practice - taste it here, there and everywhere.