You know about Shangri-La, right?
My concept of it was mostly formed by context... "That house was like Shangri-La" or some concept of a utopian place. I never knew what Shangri-La was in reality, but had the idea that it was a idyllic dwelling or plot of land, filled with pleasures and conveniences and luxury; sort of a hedonistic wonderland.
Then, at 4am the other morning, I was feeding Alec and stumbled upon a documentary on PBS about the real Shangri-La. Archaeologists were searching through ancient hand-dug caves cut into sides of cliffs where people used to live, worship their gods and bury their dead. Skulls, skeletons, artifacts, altars, and manuscripts of ancient texts were found and photographed to be further studied. It was an amazing find.
It turns out that Shangri-La went through a fairly difficult transition in history, and I am not doing it a bit of justice here. But the main idea, the point that struck me so hard that early morning, was that the luxury of Shangri-La was being able to use metal not for weapons, but for implements to help harvest their crops.
The utopia was safety and serenity and plenty, not riches or extravagance or gluttony. It was about not living in fear. It was about enjoying peace and being able to do something as simple as feed their children.
I really liked that and thought about it's joyful simplicity all weekend.