- A message of slow living
|▲ Day 1: at Dongamsa, setting out for Seongsan Ilchilbong. Photograph by Yuriy Pavlo Bilokonsky.|
This article is in follow-up to “Jeju's Narrow Road” [January 03, 2011].
Tommy Tran's 7-day, 143km pilgrimage is complete. His heart yearns for another journey already, and his quest to share with others the message of slow living has just begun.
Tran wrote haiku poetry at the end of each day, in the tradition of 17th century Japanese poet Basho. One such, which mirrors Basho's most famous work:
The marsh of Seongsan-
A flutter of seabird's wings!
Ripples of water...
-Huiwon / Tommy Tran (21st century)
Furu ike ya
Mizu no oto
"Ah, an ancient pond!
A frog suddenly leaps in.
The sound of water..."
-Matsuo Basho (17th century)
When asked about insights he gained along the way, Tran cites the clarity that emerged from simplicity.
Traveling alone a majority of the time, leaving behind the comforts of home and familiarity, and removing himself from distractions, he found that the beauty of nature and simple living opened his perception in new ways.
As he wrote in his blog, making reference to the traditional Jeju belief in thousands of local nature spirits, “There is...something truly spiritual about this island. It sometimes frustrates me when the casual tourist and the powers that govern Jeju constantly fail to see it.”
Encouraging Jeju citizens to “truly experience their own island and re-evaluate their relationship to this place,” Tran also expresses concern over the large amount of development and environmental degradation he encountered along the way.
“The leadership must realize that if they continue to take away from Jeju through overly ambitious development schemes, there won't be much of a Jeju left,” he proclaims.
His primary advice to those considering such a pilgrimage is to go at their own pace – good advice, it would seem, for our lives as well.
|▲ "Hungry Bridge", on the coastal path to Pyoseon. Photograph by Tommy Tran.|
“Follow the trail of your own thoughts,” he suggests, “rather than a list of places on an itinerary. A meaningful pilgrimage is much more about the journey itself than getting to the destination.”
The purpose of his experience was to encourage mindfulness as a lifestyle. He hopes to inspire others to their own journeys, reconnecting to nature and themselves as they closely observe the natural world while also sensing their place in it.
He further wishes that, rather than making a pilgrimage as a one-time event, others will consider the message of his journey as a call to slow the pace of their frenetic lives.
While he accomplished the goal he set for himself, Tran admits that he wasn't able to broadcast beforehand his pilgrimage and its message of slow living as much as he would have liked. Should he do this again, he will begin the publicity much earlier in the hope that others will join in the journey.
In the final words of a blog entry he called 'Insights': “More aware I have become; I am willing to challenge an entire world to slow its feet and open its eyes. Are you?”
Dr. Hilty is a cultural psychologist living on Jeju Island.
Anne Hilty firstname.lastname@example.org
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