On my first day at Inle Lake it was too late to take a boat tour of the city. Instead I rented a bike and cycled around the outskirts of the town.
I had a destination in mind, but at one point I decided to cycle down an unpaved road to see where it led. There was a school, some traditional Burmese housing, and lots of nature.
As I headed back to the main road I stopped to appreciate this scene. The mountains are beautiful, but what I noticed was the tall red tree. It was completely out of place!
First, the tree is too tall compared to its surroundings. Second, I didn’t see any other red trees like this anywhere in Myanmar. It could be that they are rare, or it could be that I wasn’t paying attention (more likely). But for whatever reason I did pay attention at this moment and it made me think a bit.
It made me think a lot actually. As my thoughts drifted, I realized I found the scene beautiful because the tree was different and how much that added to the overall picture. Without it, this would still be a beautiful scene but it wouldn’t be the same.
And, of course, this has its parallel in life. One constant in my trip is the social pressure everywhere to conform to certain societal standards. The severity of the pressure depends on each place, but I can say without a doubt that India is the worst in this respect.
On a planet with 7 billion people, each of us is unique and special in our own ways. For whatever reason, whether it’s marking or the celebrity culture, we’re constantly told we’re not good enough or not special.
If the tree in this picture subscribed to this philosophy, it never would have grown so tall. It would have stopped at the same level as the other trees to minimize being noticed. Instead, thankfully, the tree grew to its full height, reached its full potential, and adds way more beauty to the scene as a result.
Life is one big scene and we all have the ability to add beauty to it. Instead of focusing on how to be like everyone else, focus on embracing who you are. I can promise it’ll help you reach your full potential and by extension you’ll add more beauty than you ever thought imaginable. And maybe you sticking out among the crowd will even inspire others to do the same.
In the end, it’s ok to be different. It’s how we beautify this experience called life. So please, go off and be beautiful!