How An Earthquake Taught Me To Keep Following My Dreams

Following My Dreams

Following My Dreams

At first I thought a truck was thundering by. But then the shaking grew stronger, more violent, and persisted for a lot longer than expected. By the time we realised it was an earthquake it was finished. We looked around the cafe, shared a few words with our fellow patrons, and then celebrated surviving the earthquake with another beer.

It wasn’t until the next day that we realised the extent of the destruction caused throughout Northern Thailand by the 6.3 earthquake. While it was relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, one of the North’s most famous attractions was damaged and forced to close – Wat Rong Khun, commonly known as the White Temple.

During the earthquake we were in Chiang Mai, only 3 hours from the town of Chiang Rai where the White Temple was located. We were planning on making our way there in only a few days, primarily to cast our eyes on the glistening place of worship. But now that opportunity was gone. While the temple does still stand, the famous murals in its interior were destroyed beyond repair. Its beauty was vanquished.

Never before has an event convinced me that choosing my life of travel has been the right path. This world is full of “White Temples”, and I want to see them all.

Palenque, Mexico. Following My Dreams
Palenque, Mexico

“Don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere.” I hear that from thousands of people who have yet to visit the sights and locations that they desire to see. In a matter of seconds, this ill-conceived notion was proved wrong. Not everything stays around forever. Not man’s most beautiful structures, not nature’s greatest spectacles, not even humans.

I, along with many people, have a list of things I want to see and do. A “bucket list” you might call it. I haven’t formalised it as it is forever changing. As I continue to travel this list grows longer daily. Not just from hearing of new wonders of the world that I must venture to the other end of the earth to visit. The list grows from encounters with other people who bestow on me tales of refreshing waterfalls, funky towns and engrossing activities that I will forever long to investigate.

I am grateful when I reflect on the staggering amount of places I have been fortunate enough to explore. Not just for the abundance of luck I have had to allow me to choose this life of travel, but I am also grateful that I made that choice. The choice to keep following my dreams. I wouldn’t of hitchhiked around Canada looking for killer whales had I remained in Australia thinking that they’re “not going anywhere”. The ruins of El Mirador would still be on my “list”.

We never know what is going to happen in this life. We don’t even know what is going to happen today. Don’t postpone your desires thinking that you will always have the opportunity later in life. Not just for travel, but any goal you aim for. If you are waiting for the “perfect time” to take that step don’t be under the false impression that the world is going to wait with you. Aspirations of a dream should lead to its attainment. Don’t let your White Temple slip through your fingers.

White Temple Chiang Rai Following My Dreams
The famed White Temple in Thailand. Now only viewed from the outside.
Picture of Jarryd Salem

Jarryd Salem

Jarryd 'Jazza' Salem is a freelance travel writer and chief author of the stories and articles found on NOMADasaurus. Having left his home of Sydney in 2007 to pursue a life on the road, he aims to promote sustainable, community-based travel through his experiences backpacking the world. You can find him in some random country trying hard to quench his thirst for adventure. Follow his journey on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram

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14 thoughts on “How An Earthquake Taught Me To Keep Following My Dreams”

  1. “We never know what is going to happen in this life.”
    How true! Great article…
    Extremely interesting approach, we experienced ourselves also an earthquake (the one in Sichuan / Chengdu, 8.0 on the Richter Scale, on Mai 12th 2008, 14:30, I will never forget those 2 minutes, plus the 30 plus after quakes above 5), but I had never reflected about it except maybe “whaoo, nothing happened to us”.
    And I must say I never actually thought that places or building or natural wonder could disappear in my lifetime, more culture and traditions changing, and wildlife being whipped out by poaching, what is my main motivation to travel NOW.
    Cheers, Gilles

    • Whoa, Gilles, that earthquake must have been crazy! Can’t imagine what one of that size would feel like. I had never really thought about buildings or natural wonder disappearing until quite recently. With climate change destroying our atmosphere, glaciers disappearing and wildlife along with it, now is the best time to start to implement change in our daily lives to help combat this. A good reason to go out travelling as well 😉

  2. Fantastic moral – who knows what could happen tomorrow – we just have to live and enjoy today! Love your picture of the white temple!

    • Cheers Meg, glad you enjoyed the story. It’s a bit of a cliché, but life is short and according to all the kids these days, “You only live once”. We have to make the most of every moment while we can. Thanks for reading! =)

  3. Lovely sentiment! There’s never a ‘right’ time to travel and sadly, many of my favourite destinations are evolving a bit too fast for my liking. Lucky there’s always somewhere new to explore! Looking forward to reading more 🙂

    • Thanks for reading, Ruth. Everywhere you go we hear people say, “You should of been here 20 years ago.” The only problem is with exploring new places comes tourism, and tourism is a double-edged sword – both greatly benefiting economies and tragically destroying culture. Sustainable travel is what we need to focus on. Cheers for the comment.

  4. “Not everything stays around forever” – these exact words is why we travel. Unfortunately its not just weather that can destroy things, but man too, which is so sad to see what we are doing to some parts of the world

    • Indeed you are right, Adam. It is a shame what we are doing to this planet. Hopefully we start to make some drastic changes before it is too late. In the meantime we can only travel as far and as long as possible, hoping to spread the word of how beautiful this world really is. Thanks for reading!

  5. Very nice story 🙂

    • Thanks very much for reading, Alex. Glad you enjoyed it.

  6. This post definitely spoke to me, as I have been waiting for ‘the right time’ for soooo long! It took a few rough moments last year for me to realize, I can decide when it is time, not everyone/everything around me. I made the leap last August and left my stable job and home in search of something new! Now, in 2 days I leave for 2 months in East Africa! Something I have been ‘waiting’ to do for too many years!

    • Thanks very much Aimee. That’s so exciting you’re off to Africa! I can’t wait to hear all about your adventures over there. When you return you’ll have to give us a few tips on things to see and do. Safe travels.

  7. Jazza, this is my favourite article yet. It has broken my heart a little bit though

    • Thanks very much MJ! Appreciate the kind words. It is a bit heart-wrenching when things like this happen, but such is life. All we can do is embrace the opportunities we have while we still have them.

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