Myanmar through the lens of time

Inle Lake, Myanmar, 2014

When you used to think of Myanmar, which you had known as Burma at the time, you thought of your Social Studies classmate’s “Free Aung San Suu Kyi” bumper sticker, placed at an intentional 45 degree rotation on her laptop. You marveled at the strange arrangement of letters and repeated vowels. You learned that Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest for attempting to bring democracy to Burma, a far off country on the other side of the world.

You had no idea where this Myanmar place was on the map, and your mind processed this new knowledge, but moved on to the prospects of the work you could complete before the class bell rang.

Seven years later, you disembarked a ship alongside 500 of your peers, stepping feet on the Port of Yangon and entering Myanmar, consequentially dissolving the shroud of mystery that had encapsulated this seemingly mystical place. You sensed that when you left this particular place, you would not be the same as you had been when you arrived.

Your travels through Myanmar brought you near Mandalay, where you traversed by water through the various water villages of Inle Lake. As you initially approached the mistrusting shore, you focused and stepped with precision onto the narrow motor boat that would serve as your lifeline and transportation for the better part of the trip.

You looked on in awe, at the natural landscape and smooth mountain peaks along the horizon. The sun played off the surface of the lake all day, casting glittering rays along the peaking waves. And the suns that set there eve and eve before cast colorful and vibrant sky-scapes which the lake reflected back, doubly beautiful.

These moments were hard for you to articulate. And you do still struggle with explaining that a beauty that sincere could only occur naturally through symbiotic relationships between various natural forces. You watched as the water casted a ricochet of waves outward from you, the origin.

In this microcosm within Inle Lake, you dozed off beneath the gentle embrace of the summer sun, a breeze that tickled your ears as your mind wandered so far off, you were lost within the languid tranquility existing as an additional force of nature, just like the sun and the lake’s playful relationship.

You’re getting too deep, and you lose focus and awaken when the motor sputters out of rhythm. Your skin is warm, and the top of your head could cook and egg.

It must have been that you were surrounded by water, that made you feel that way. You were having a spiritual experience on your own, forgetting the presence of your travel companions.

Allowing yourself to get so carried away in the nature was cleansing, in that you neglected sadness, trouble, pain, and evil. The straight dose of nature, fresh and crisp was enough to snap you out of that funk that had materialized prior to your embarkation on this journey.

And then you emerged from Inle Lake.