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Traveling And Instagramming The World Before Going Blind

An Australian woman diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease that will soon take her sight decided she would travel the world and document her photos on Instagram.

Taken from Lara Miller's Instagram feed
Taken from Lara Miller's Instagram feed
Federico Taddia

TURIN — Lara Miller, a 33-year-old Australian, has responded to the unexpected diagnosis of going blind with the singular objective to see, photograph and share as much of the world as possible before losing her sight altogether.

"I'm losing my sight and can't do anything about it," she says. "But I feel that I'm seeing everything that matters."

This adventure began on her 19th birthday, when she was diagnosed with Retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative and genetic ocular disease. "It means that I will slowly lose my peripheral vision, as if I am looking through a telescope — like the light at the end of a tunnel where only the details in the middle are focused," she says. "My eyes are also very sensitive to light, so I rarely take photos in the sun. I love cloudy days."

Miller's first reaction to the disease was accepting the new reality, facing head on the profound changes in her everyday life. Then a holiday in Bali, a gift from her uncle, inspired her. "The awareness of my future loss of sight became a driving force for me to see the world," she recalls. "I want to do as much as possible before I can't anymore. I know what awaits me, but I won't sit here and wait for it."

Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Greece, South Africa, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States are the countries she has visited so far. Next on the list are Tasmania, Alaska, Japan, Finland and Cambodia. Always hand-in-hand with her husband and accompanied by a camera, she posts the images from her travels on Instagram (@lovewalkeatsee), where she has nearly 115,000 followers.

"For me, taking pictures means preserving things and having the chance to see the incredible scenes and details that seem distant and blurred to me," she says. "My eyes are always changing. There are good days and not so good days, days when I suffer and days when I don't. I try to adapt to these changes. Sometimes I have to find a different way of taking certain shots, and sometimes I have to avoid strong lighting. The changes influence how I take the photos."

She never thinks about her future in the dark, noting that she faces the prospect without sadness. "When I travel, I feel courageous, resourceful and uninhibited," she says. "I was a little sad when I was in Iceland and I couldn't fully take in the Northern Lights. I was there in the dark, holding the tripod that my husband placed to capture the phenomenon. I listened to the others who were moving in black on top of that mountain and I experienced a moment of deep pain and sorrow. But I learned to work on myself and look past these moments of bitterness."

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A Refuge From China's Rat Race: The Young People Flocking To Buddhist Monasteries

Unemployment, stress in the workplace, economic difficulties: more and more young Chinese graduates are flocking to monasteries to find "another school of life."

Photograph of a girl praying at a temple during Chinese Lunar New Year. She is burning incense.

Feb 20, 2015 - Huaibei, China - Chinese worshippers pray at a temple during the Lunar New Yeat

Frédéric Schaeffer

JIAXING — It's already dawn at Xianghai Temple when Lin, 26, goes to the Hall of 10,000 Buddhas for the 5:30 a.m. prayer.

Still half-asleep, the young woman joins the monks in chanting mantras and reciting sacred texts for an hour. Kneeling, she bows three times to Vairocana, also known as the Great Sun Buddha, who dominates the 42-meter-high hall representing the cosmos.

Before grabbing a vegetarian breakfast in the adjacent refectory, monks and devotees chant around the hall to the sound of drums and gongs.

"I resigned last October from the e-commerce company where I had been working for the past two years in Nanjing, and joined the temple in January, where I am now a volunteer in residence," explains the young woman, soberly dressed in black pants and a cream linen jacket.

Located in the city of Jiaxing, over a hundred kilometers from Shanghai, in eastern China, the Xianghai temple is home to some 20 permanent volunteers.

Unlike Lin, most of them only stay for a couple days or a few weeks. But for Lin, who spends most of her free time studying Buddhist texts in the temple library, the change in her life has been radical. "I used to do the same job every day, sometimes until very late at night, writing all kinds of reports for my boss. I was exhausted physically and mentally. I felt my life had no meaning," she says.

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