A final word...
Contentment -- My father, C. Y. Weng, took this
shot of me under Opaekaa Falls, Kauai, with the Canon Pro70 digital camera.
Somewhere along the Watkin Path, south of Snowdon at around half past five, it was raining
so heavily that I neglected to notice the hastened retreat of sunlight. Desperate to leave the mountain, I let myself
tumble down a 1,000-foot decline, barely stopping myself before a row of sharp granite
shards. Waterlogged, clothes torn, my
walking stick lost and my calf bleeding from a bruise, I was saved by an elderly Welshman,
who drove me to the nearby village of Ryu Dyu for a much-needed cup of tea.
1995: Somewhere north of Lansing,
Michigan, past 2:00 am, it was snowing so heavily that I couldnt see where the road
ended and the ditch began. My Honda careened ever so steadily to the right until I
couldnt sit straight behind the steering wheel. Then I felt its tires digging
into the snow bank, and myself being buried in the blizzard. By 3:00, I was rescued
by a nurse coming home from the late shift, as she drove me in her white Volvo to the
nearest service station.
Every seasoned traveler has a few of these survival stories.
Reassuring as it was that my life could be in the good hands of strangers, and fun
as it is to tell these stories to a new friend (every old friend must have heard them all
at least twice), I try my best not to collect any more of them. A death, however
adventurous, is just that. The fates can be tempted only ever so often.
This doesnt mean I wont try, again, to climb a
mountain at the first sign of rain, or put my snowshoes away when there is snow to be
walked upon. It does mean the one thing I love to do braving a new world may
well be the last thing Id ever do. Should I indeed perish somewhere far away
from home, let the cause of my demise be known as an act of God, a human error or (God
forbid) something far more sinister, but never for simply being a man on the move, pushing
his luck wherever he goes.
The payoff for any given pursuit of happiness is a particular
kind of pleasure, be it ecstasy, titillation, pride, contentment, release, or intrigue.
Amongst them, perhaps the rarest of all is AWE. For an adult, very few
moments are truly awesome. The tryst of a lifetime, the birth of one's first child,
the first death in the family the truest experience of sensing something infinitely
greater than one's own everyday existence. Short of those pivotal events that come
but once, if at all, in our lives, we can be awed only by beholding that which is timeless
and eternal. The Grand Canyon. Mont Blanc. The
caribous and grizzlies of Alaska. The cathedrals of
Chatres, Canterbury, Cologne and Cordoba. All are quarries of this roving photographer.
I started this web site as a private testament to the joys and rewards
of travel. At its core, it has always been a celebration of a blessedly
mobile existence. I am grateful
to set my foot, eye and camera at some of the most wondrous places on earth, and to meet
the kindest people under the most unlikely circumstance.
The more of the world I see,
the more I care about it. The many opinions I now have towards the ways of
the world may not be all that astute, but I do hope they are based on
sensible reasoning and a competent grasp of the facts at hand (i.e., they
are rationally and empirically sound). Indeed, all these
commentaries in a personal web site do appear rather self-indulgent and
angst-ridden, but I shall go on to be so cocky as to say that they are an
expression of conscience. No cynical posturing or vain pretense here.
Ultimately, it is my scruples towards
the many real, tangible mysteries still left within this lifetime that will rein
in my wanderlust, so that I would not go too far off the proverbial deep
end, losing touch with all reality -- or life altogether. It would be most grievous were I to go before my time. However, were
these words and images my last impressions of this earth, it
would be difficult to imagine that I had met my end with regret.
Charles Weng, 18th February 2000,
updated 25th October 2002