I stayed the night in the sleepy jungle town of Mawlamyne. George Orwell spent time as a policeman here and Rudyard Kipling wrote about it after spending just 3 days. There are these beautiful Colonial style mansions scattered throughout this city. Most of them boarded up, abandoned, covered in vines and worn down from years of neglect but can easily picture how grand they would have been back in their day and the stories they held if those walls could talk… I stayed in one with a long history behind it. Originally built for a shipyard owner in the late 1800’s, later sold to a merchant from India then bought by Mr.Khaing’s father about 70 years ago, Mr.Khaing turned it into a guesthouse shortly after his father passed away about 20 years ago.

Mr.Khaing sitting at the breakfast table after a most memorable talk.

Mr.Khaing sitting at the breakfast table after a most memorable talk.

“I am very greatful to my father for giving me this opportunity to make a living by giving this house to me…” ~Mr.Khaing 

When I checked in, Mr.Khaing was sitting in the lobby chatting with a friend and he asks me where I am from. I said Canada and says “Ah I had an interesting guest from Canada named William. He stayed here 7 years ago at my guesthouse. I have a great story I will have to tell you about William later”. I went about my day and sat with him in the lobby that evening. The story is too long to repeat but I’ll mention that Mr.Khaing like most of the people in Burma are devout Buddhists. In fact Burma is one of the most devout Buddhist countries in the world. The story ties in with that and the next morning as I’m having my cup of coffee people-watching over the balcony, he sat at the table and motions me to come over. Mr.Khaing keeps a journal of his guesthouse with guests leaving personal messages and he wanted to share with me what William left for him. This one paragraph struck a cord with me:

“Don’t go into the tangled jungle looking for the great awakened elephant,

who is already resting quietly at home in front of your own hearth.” 

He changed the words a little from the original paragraph but I like it. Here’s the whole thing for those who care to read it:

This moment was an emotional one for me. It took me by surprise because the quote above resonated with the current struggles I’ve been faced with and that I still continue to face. We are all ultimately looking for happiness in life and go through life trying different ways to find it. This sentence to me, means that true happiness can not be found externally, it can only be found from within. Temporary happiness can be reached with things like material possessions, earning money, ego, emotional attachment to people and even travel but that will ultimately fade away, leaving us with another void to fill until we find the next ‘fix’. Happiness is already inside us, we just have to learn how to tap into it.

Does it mean something different to you?


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