PLAYLIST: Burning in Burma

Where I Was:
Reflections: The Mirrors of Myanmar

How I Did It:
Download itinerary and budget

What I Saw:
In Photograph: Myanmar

What I Was Listening To:

This playlist requires the Spotify app to function.

  • Erykah Badu, “Bag Lady”
    Other than the fact that it was an intensive backpacking trip, and Erykah Badu (you’ll see her in many of my playlists) emphasizes the value of packing light in the physical, emotional, and mental senses, we thought it was clever enough to appoint “#BAGanLADY” as one of our official trip hashtags.
  • Brett Dennen, “Desert Sunrise”
  • Kimbra, “Love in High Places”
    I’ve seen hundreds of sunsets — a handful of which being the most beautiful light shows I’ve ever laid my eyes on — but sunrises are rare. Sunsets are easy — you could be lazing about and catch one; sunrises are ceremonial and sought out — they require a certain degree of will power and gusto. One does not simply come across a sunrise.I can count maybe only three great sunrises in my life, the one in Bagan being the most recent and amazing one. I was up by 4:30 AM, hopped onto horse carts for a 20 minute stroll to one of the pagodas that are more popular for dawn activity. I climbed a steep four flights, and stood among a crowd of patient sunrise-chasers.

    I wandered off to another side of the open temple, and struck gold — right in front of where the sun’s face was to appear was space for one tiny person, waiting for me. I set my camera, knowing that more than my equipment, I had some settling to do as well. It had been a tough month, at that point, and I really needed the silence. I sat solemnly for an hour, saying and doing nothing, but watch the Earth’s closest neighboring star reveal itself to me.

    It started out a faint, red Cheshire Cat smile at the base of the horizon. Slowly, it filled up with a warm yellow, which got brighter as this ball of fire ascended. I’m not going to lie, I wept quietly to myself. Apart from being stunned by the magic of the experience, I was overwhelmed by how peaceful it was. It was such a stark contrast to the mess that I was prodding through at the time. It was more than who and what I was, and I still could be happier. The phenomenal love that I have to offer comes from someplace higher than myself. My thirst for life was not going to be satiated behind a desk. And I knew that I even if I was sitting there, in the dark, beside myself, I could still be transcendent, and the sun would still rise in the morning.

    Two days later, I quit my job.

  • Van Hunt, “Dust”
  • Kansas, “Dust in the Wind”
  • Good Charlotte, “Mountain”
  • Stone Temple Pilots, “Wicked Garden”
  • Anggun, “Snow On The Sahara”
  • America, “Horse With No Name”
  • Alice Smith, “Desert Song”
  • Radiohead, “High and Dry”
  • Erykah Badu, “Didn’t Cha Know”
    Myanmar was an incredibly humbling trip. I was fully aware of both my limitations and my exaltations as a human being. I can only do so much, but on the other hand, I could do so much. I am both mortal and transcendent; I will expire someday, but until then, I have a life to live! But as I aspire to live simply, I do not care for mundanity. I wasted so much time chasing shallow dreams, when there are so many worlds other than mine, and so much more to life than what I know. It was difficult to arrive at the decisions that I made to untether myself from the things that I felt tied me down, but it is necessary for growth. I would like to be mobile and light, like dust in the wind, but I refuse to be a dry, barren desert.

What should have been on the list:

  • Kelly Clarkson, “Since You’ve Been Gone”
    Again, for the hashtag: “#SinceYouBagan”
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