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January 01, 2012, Sunday

1/1250s | f3.5 | 18mm | The entrance to Angkor Thom. Shot using the Nikon D7000, which I have finally upgraded to after 7 good years with the Nikon D70.

When I was a kid, I dreamt of exploring ruined cities engulfed in the thickness of a lush jungle. It was to be a dream realised some 20 years later when I visited Angkor. I'm glad that my visit to Angkor came later in life. As a kid, I wouldn't have appreciated the fascinating history of the Khmer Empire. The mystical Angkorian architecture that seems and feels in harmony with the universe would have been lost on me too.

This post, however, is not about the virtue of delayed gratification. If anything, it's more of a carpe-diem, quasi-motivational post that I'm in the mood for because it's the first day of the New Year. I look back at 2011 and have no wish of repeating it. It was a year spent mostly on working, studying and most abhorently, vegetating in front of the laptop after most days in the office.

We try to use the talents that we do have to express our deep feelings, to show our appreciation of all the contributions that came before us, and to add something to that flow. That's what has driven me. - Steve Jobs

While I'm that much closer to qualifying as an actuary, my zest for life and the ability to create have almost been fully drained from the gruelling process. In 2011, I had hardly produced things that are meaningful in the bigger scheme of things; things that, as Steve Jobs would have put it, add something to the "stream of history and of human consciousness".

In Status Anxiety, Alain de Botton suggested that visting ruins would help allay our anxieties about our lack of achievements. He argued that the ruins are a stark reminder that we cannot defy the forces of destruction and everything is fated to dissapear. Hence, pursuits of earthly concerns are in vain. Alain De Botton is right about most things normally but beholding the ruined temples of Angkor, one does not dwell on the decline of the Khmer empire so much as mankind's ingenuity. While the temples may be crumbling, the builders' sense of aesthetics resonates just as powerfully as it did hundreds of years ago. They had certainly contributed to the flow of history.

In 2012, the world is unlikely to end; it's going to be the start of a new age. Happy New Year.

posted at 10:35 PM