BY NELSON NG
2020 has been a rather exhausting year. Exhausting because, it has been very much out of control. More than ever now, people are worried about what the future holds. As we worry about the coming year — or even just tomorrow — we try very hard to determine what happens. We make plans, then plan Bs, and sometimes, even plan Cs.
But the universe never cooperates. And why should it?
For most of us who live in cities, we’ve forgotten what it feels like to lose control. As we get better and smarter at changing our environment to suit our daily lives, we have come to believe that that the universe revolves around us. We demand instant-gratification, expect excellent results, insist on being on schedule, and take it for granted that everything works at the click of a button. We are used to being in control. We think being in control makes us happy. And the cities that we live in encourage this.
But maybe being in control doesn’t always make us happy.
We are reminded of our vulnerability when we travel. In a foreign place, we have to adjust to new surroundings, adapt to the local food, and learn to communicate using a different language. Things won’t work the same way they do back home, and we realise how helpless we are when we are out of our comfort zone.
It is probably even more so when we travel out of cities into the countryside. Nature can be beautiful, but it can also be unreasonable. It will choose to rain when it wants to, and be scorching hot if it feels like it. The grass might be soft to lie on, but the rocks that lay around can also be sharp and deadly. The breeze can be nice at times, but it can also turn into an uncontrollable wind that blows your hat off. You can try to reason with nature, but it will not reason with you. You have no other choice but to only act according to its will. And in the process you are reminded, that you are not the boss of the world. There is something way more powerful than us at work here.
And this is what I like about travel. It humbles us. And it also liberates us from ourselves. It reminds us that it’s okay to mess up, to let things break down, and to let ourselves be defeated. We don’t always have to be strong and perfect. We don’t always have to know everything. We don’t always have to be holding the reins. It’s okay to just sit back and enjoy the ride. It’s okay to let go.
And so I wrote this little poem in the opening pages of Issue Seven, as a reminder for our readers and also for myself, to surrender ourselves to the journey once in a while. There is strength in learning to be accepting, rather than being insistent all the time. It is especially true in these trying times, when nothing goes according to plan, and everything seems to be falling apart. We might not be able to change the situation, but we can definitely change the way we react to it. There is freedom and happiness in giving up control.
Because it was never ours to begin with.
2020年让大家特别累。累是因为这一整年发生的事情都非常难控制。人们比以往更加担心未来的发展。而在我们担心明年 — 甚至明天 — 的时候，我们就会尽所有能力去控制未来将会发生的事。我们会做很多计划，然后也会做一些备用计划，而且也会为备用计划再准备一些备用计划。
NELSON NG 出生成长在新加坡，自从2004年出国到纽约留学后，就一直在世界各地跑。在纽约留学时，他投入了美术与设计，也爱上了印刷品。之后因为工作搬到上海，重新发现旅行，创办了独立杂志《LOST》。目前 NELSON 在上海设立了出版工作室 VOLUME PRESS，一边听爵士音乐，一边幻想出更多有趣的创作。
Nelson Ng was born and raised in Singapore. After graduating from Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NYC) in 2008 with a BFA in Painting, he fell into the world of advertising and moved to China to work as an Art Director at advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai. During his time in Shanghai, he rediscovered travel and founded LOST magazine in 2014 as a platform for people to share their personal travel stories. Since then, he has left advertising to focus on publication projects through the publishing studio VOLUME PRESS.