Apparently, it’s bad form to write about sunsets. And even to take photos of them. And even to start sentences with “and” – but right now I’m a little tired of playing by the “rules.”
On my last night in Jordan, I watched the sun dare me to take photos. I watched it burn and blaze and cast its flaming brilliance across the stone columns of the Citadel in Amman. I stood on the dry earth that has seen mankind live and work here for more than 7000 years, while flocks of birds swooped above and the lights of a city flickered among the distinct harmonies of the call to prayer.
I took in the crumbling dust of Stone Age remains, striking Roman columns, and key references to the world’s three biggest monotheistic faiths. I heard languages from around the world and watched people interact with politeness and respect.
This trip to Jordan has reminded me why I love to travel, why I love seeing something new and something different and yet how beautiful it is to remember that we are all connected and that we have more in common than we have differences that set us apart.
It’s difficult to write about things like this. For one, it sounds incredibly naive, as though I’m a teenager ridden with misplaced passion and angst. For another, as a journalist, writer, blogger, whatever others want to call me, it opens the door to bullying and ridicule.
The first point is easier to deal with. I know full well that there is evil in the world. I’ve been spat on, urinated on and assaulted while I’ve tried to save someone’s life. I’ve looked serial killers and psychopaths in the eye and I’ve dealt with the fallout of hatred, whatever the cause, whatever the label: religious hatred, racial hatred, misogyny and so on. I don’t see a distinction. Hatred and violence is still hatred and violence.
Luckily, those experiences dwarf the more recent ones and keep them in perspective. I know that a number of people confuse journalism with hurting people and being negative for the sake of it. No matter what they say, I won’t subscribe to that view.
It’s tiresome and I try to ignore it, but sometimes it takes up more space in my mind than it deserves.
Like now, when I’m standing on the Citadel in Jordan.
I’ve travelled here as a guest of Visit Jordan, a situation that makes me more critical than I would be if I’d come here alone. I value my words and I value my reputation and I always want to remain objective. Not everything here has been perfect, not everything deserves a trickle, never mind a gush, of praise.
But perhaps I’m in danger of letting the scrutiny – and occasional bullying – of the outside world interfere with that objectivity. In my efforts to provide a balanced view, I’m almost shying away from the truth.
The truth is, that among the questions, the debate, and the more detailed articles that will follow, travel still brings plenty of moments of simple, pure appreciation and joy.
And it would be a shame if I, or anyone else, lost that in the honourable journey of remaining objective.
The Citadel of Amman in Jordan is a standard tourist attraction.
At sunset, it looks beautiful. Exceptionally beautiful.
I hope you enjoy the moment. I certainly did.