40 Awe Inspiring Moments

It is said that if you take the time to be awed by the world we live in, you can be a happier person. Awe inspiring moments happen everywhere, all the time and they can be big or small. Awe can happen witnessing people showing great kindness to other people, animals or nature; watching two people who are meant to be together falling in love; watching people standing up to oppression at risk to their lives; experiencing nature in its breathtaking beauty such as a sunset, a full moon, or majestic mountains; witnessing great artistic or creative talent that makes you think and inspires you; or man-made structures that take your breath away. I could go on.

For some reason I was thinking of the awe inspiring things I’ve seen throughout my life and started making a list of them to recapture how I felt in each of those moments. Focusing on my life right now, as well as future plans, it seems to crowd out these great memories that changed my life for the better. I shared some of them with Steve the other day, and he mentioned a few of his own in response, so I thought it might be worth sharing here, and perhaps, if you’re inspired, you can share your awe inspiring moments? I’d love to hear them.

Now, before you think I’m having a brag-fest on all of the amazing places I’ve traveled to, I need to point something out. When everyone else was growing up and doing sensible things, like buying homes, nice cars and essentially, securing their futures, I decided to take a different path and invest in my memories. This was a very focused decision, and while I’ve got an amazing memory investment portfolio, when the chips are down financially, I don’t have any back-up. So I’m not bragging here, just taking you on a tour of the home I didn’t buy. I’m getting closer to being grown-up and investing in bricks and mortar though… I think.

So here are my awe inspiring moments – both natural and man-made – and in no particular order:
  1. The Taj Mahal – the great monument to love. The first time I saw it, it took my breath away. So delicate and beautiful
  2. Abu Simbel in Northern Egypt – the statues and the way man moved to save them when the damn was built – awe inspiring
  3. Sitting in a hot spa in Costa Rica, while the volcano heating that water was going off in the background. It was scary and powerful at the same time seeing that lava coming down the mountain
  4. The first time I drove into Edinburgh, at night, I couldn’t believe how beautiful the city was. I thought I’d seen everything that could take my breath away until that moment
  5. When we were living in Noosa, I have never seen full moons like it – big, orange, beautiful moons. The Milky Way from my Dad’s “farm” outside of Wodonga is very special too
  6. Another great aspect of Noosa was a beautiful little possum that used to visit with her baby. Towards the end of our stay, she had another baby and would visit us every night with both kiddies – very cool. Another awe inspiring animal encounter was the day I came face-to-face with my first Hummingbird while sitting in a café in Antigua, Gutemala
  7. Falling in lovewith Steve was truly awe inspiring
  8. The first time I stood in Times Square, NYC was unbelievable – I’d only seen it in the movies before then
  9. Coming into NYC on the train from Boston a week after September 11 and the twin towers not there…
  10. The view from the trains in India – observing life, in all its forms, waking up first thing in the morning – the women and children first, followed by the men
  11. When I flew into Nepal and saw the Himalayas popping through the clouds, and then having them as my backdrop for the next month – majestic is an understatement
  12. The first time I stood in Tiananmen Square in 1995 and reflected on all that had happened here
  13. Standing on the Great Wall of China – looking at it weaving through the mountains in both directions
  14. The Island of Isis in Egypt, one of the few temples that survived the damn flooding – so beautiful and delicate, but also interesting as part of its history is its defacing by the Christians
  15. Reading the hieroglyphicsin the  Egyptian pyramids – I’d studied Egyptology at university, so it was amazing being there, reading it in real life
  16. The Island of Phi Phi in Thailand (2004, so pre-Tsunami devastation) with Steve for our one year anniversary – simple, calming, happy, beautiful, and peaceful
  17. Our honeymoon in Kao Tao, Thailand– we just talked and got to know each other even more?! It was spectacular
  18. The pleasure we gave everyone who came to our wedding
  19. Sitting in Kowloon with Steve for the first time together, by the water, looking at the Hong Kong skyline. We had both done this many times alone, sitting in exactly the same place. It was super special sharing it together for the first time that Saturday night in 2003
  20. Understanding the scale of destruction the Tsunami wrought from our balcony in Phuket, when we lived there for a few months. The entire village of Kamala Beach, which we overlooked, was wiped out
  21. My first day in London, at the time there were no skyscrapers. I couldn’t believe how low and beautiful the city was
  22. The view from my apartment in Glebe in 2002 – overlooking Sydney Harbour, including the Harbour Bridge. I lived there for a year and took tremendous pleasure in this view every day
  23. Standing in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, enjoying an Airshow and being gobsmacked by the Cathedral that was standing there in ruins after an earthquake more than 20 years before. It was beautiful in its destruction and the fact they’d never rebuilt it
  24. Chichen Itza was amazing, but Copan in Honduras was spectacular! When I was leaving, there was this incredible screaming through the forest and I saw a large cat cross the path I had just walked. The animal noise was a Howler Monkey, and I walked out of there pretty quickly – but it was a heart racing, awe inspiring moment that included both nature and mankind’s creative abilities at its finest
  25. Playing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture in a field in Wagga Wagga, when I was in the Australian Army Band Melbourne. It’s an incredibly exciting part for the Euphonium, but having real canons go off at the same time – WOW
  26. Falling in love with Lex and Jax. Lex took some time and then wham! Jax was instant. Pure magic
  27. My first time diving off the Island of Utila in Honduras – a “fever” of stingrays swam by
  28. Standing onMount Sinai, where Moses received the 10 Commandments. I had climbed up at night, so when I woke in the morning, it was to the incredible view over a desert mountain landscape. I had never seen or appreciated the beauty and diversity of deserts until that moment
  29. Swimming in the Dead Sea for the first time – there were a few stinging sensations as my body got used to the salt, but The Dead Sea!!!! Being in Jerusalem was equally powerful – so much has happened there
  30. Walking through the colossal mountain paths and coming face to face with the first temple at Petra in Jordan. Indiana Jones had been here
  31. Varanasi in India – an ancient City on the Ganges. The vats where they burnt the bodies. Families swimming in the holy water. Dead bodies floating in the water because they couldn’t afford the vats. The immense history of the city. The on-going challenges between Muslims and Hindus. It was a very powerful city for me
  32. Trekking into the small town of Patan, in Nepal, where the famous bar scene with Marion occurred – in the first Indiana Jones movie. Yep I’m an Indie fan… Udaipur in India was another great “movie” experience as it features a scene in “Octopussy”
  33. Every time I have gone to Paris – I just love that city, but it was extra special when Steve and I went together six weeks after we met
  34. The first days in Cairo were awe inspiring, on so many levels. Being an Ancient History buff made it an amazing place for me to visit
  35. In one of my favourite cities in the world, Calcutta, I met two amazing beggars. One was deaf and couldn’t speak. The other a hunchback with no teeth. The first sold me toilet paper. The second used to run up the road and get me a taxi. Neither ever asked anything of me and gave me the most magnificent smiles every day. I will always remember them, as well as the other beggars in India who touched my life with their smiles
  36. Another special moment for me in Calcutta was being there when the Monsoon hit. An amazing time in its own right, but I will always remember walking out of my hotel that morning, and all of the people sleeping on the street were standing under water spouts coming off the roofs – it was annual shower time. It was so special witnessing that
  37. The first time I stood in central Rome in the ancient ruins looking at the place where Caesar was killed
  38. Everything about Venice – so so beautiful and knowing, no matter how much time I spent here, that I could never ever get to the bottom of this magnificent city
  39. In the field at Gallipoli, walking around the tombs of the young Antipodean solders who died here, hearing the immense respect the Turks continue to have for our ancestors to this day, as well as towards the young people of ANZ who come all the way across the world to visit this very moving place
  40. I met Mother Theresa about one year before she died. I have never in my life been so awe struck by another human being – she had this power coming off her and it blew me away. She was so tiny and frail, and yet she had this thing within her. Amazing

OK I’m at 40 and I could go on and on and on, but wow, going back through some of my memories makes me smile from ear to ear. I made travel my primary goal in life, and it continues to be my primary goal. I love our amazing and diverse world, and I will continue to wander anywhere I am able to go. One day I want to stand before the Gates of Babylon. I can’t do that yet, and hope that a time of peace and acceptance comes so we can all be free to enjoy the magic of our planet.

So your turn – and it can be ANYTHING – awe comes in so many packages, and I’d love to know yours? It’ll make you smile remembering I promise!

With love, and without the bollocks

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