China has one, Rome has one, even England has one.
The Wonders of the World vary according to the list you happen to look at, but in my mind at least, the Taj Mahal in India had a secure place on that list somewhere.
That’s why heading to the marble monument that Emperor Shah Jahan erected for his deceased wife was quite a significant event on my travel calendar.
The Taj, as it’s fondly called by natives, was the last stop on my nine day trip to India. In comparison to Udaipur in Rajasthan, this final stop in Agra wasn’t particularly beautiful.
However, the lines to enter the grounds of the Taj Mahal were a clear sign that despite its surroundings, there lived something special beyond the gates.
Once I got over the fact that my friends had paid significantly less to enter because they were of Indian origin, I prepared myself for the stark beauty that laid ahead.
I expected a World Wonder to take my breath away as soon as I set my eyes on it; I expected to be wowed.
Walking through the archway leading to the Taj, the heavy mist and the shiny marble blended together, so I couldn’t see very much. Keen tourists forced their way past to take photographs while I stood staring at the gargantuan structure in front of me. It was white, barely visible and dare I say – nice?
I wasn’t blown away and I wasn’t wowed. It was nice and certainly offered a good photo opportunity but I hoped that getting closer would reveal something special.
We had to take off our shoes to walk on the marble, which meant doing my best to erase all of my thoughts of the millions of sweaty feet that had stepped there before me. After walking around, we took a break and I flicked through the photographs we’d taken on the camera. I was amazed–they were great. I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of gratefulness.
I was standing in India at the Taj Mahal. There were people all around the world in that same moment dreaming about doing exactly that. I was walking barefoot on the marble, feeling this Wonder of the World against my skin while others had to settle for an image stuck to their wall.
I was blown away by this realization. The Taj in all its glory may not have wowed me, but it taught me a profound lesson that extends further than dreams of travel.
Life may not have us where we want to be, but there’s somebody out there in the world going to bed each night dreaming and wishing to be exactly where we are.
Maybe if we take the time to embrace the moment and look at what we have, we’ll see the value of where we stand in the present.
Maybe we’ll see the wonder that others see and maybe, just maybe, that might help us to appreciate and be thankful for the wonderful life we have, even as we continue moving towards where we dream of being.
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