Tuesday, May 16, 2017

On Travel and Being Here Now

Travel!!! See the world around you.

Why bother?  It's true, you can probably find what you want and are looking for where you live as far as the comforts and modern conveniences of life.  But...seeing the world around you with feet on the ground teaches a profound lesson if you are open.

Doubtful...well...read just a little more.

Curious about traveling and the boon of the road? Yes, then, continue reading.  Remember, this is just my experience, you will have to  pack your Patagonia Blackhole bag and see where you land to get what I am writing about.

As I hacked at these reflections on my last long trip, my darling wife and I were rolling across the Northwest from Vancouver back to Seattle riding leisurely in the lounge car of the Cascades Amtrak line (a wonderful way to travel).  We took eight days off from our lives in ANC and set out for a leisurely get away.  At first, it we wanted some far off destination with sunshine and maybe beaches  but honestly that's not really us.  We wanted to do the things we love most of which revolve around nice long eye gazing meals, artsy neighborhoods and random classes at chic yoga/fitness studio boutiques.

Ultimately, we bought some inexpensive tickets to Seattle (only one jump away which for an Alaskan is important since it takes a lot of effort to leave this attached island), rented some hipster envy AirB@Bs and  added some international flare by getting return train tickets from Seattle to Vancouver.

Mind you,  we could theoretically in a certain sense do all the things here in Anchorage that we did on our trip.  It's true. Currently, we reside in a funky art cottage within in a artsy hood called Spenard. There, we know the groovy restaurants and what classes to take from the best instructors.  Still...there is something about going somewhere else and doing it all the same sort of way in a different context, most of all there is one lesson above all that doing this  teaches.

What is it?

Learning to be where you are when you are there or as that joyous mystique Ram Das declares, "Be here now."

When traveling, one needs to be present to the details and open to the randomness that the road brings.  Sure you can plan everything to a perfect plan.  Many people do.  We probably know people who do this and we know how exhausting that can be.  I am referring to a different path. Instead, I am thinking about the journey  when you leave open moments for the magic to shine through.   One needs to plan enough to have a framework.  I absolutely agree that a certain amount of intention setting and organizing needs to be done so one can enjoy the trip without anxiety.  After this minimal planning,  it's essential just let it roll out before you and  enjoy every moment that you are in.  Or else, you will miss out on the miracles, the secret gems of discovery, the right restaurants off the guide books, the groovy streets that nobody ever talks about back home, the pleasure of meeting people you don't know and just those indescribable serendipitous moments that only a traveler knows.

But...step off the present, start answering emails, texts, tagging oneself and guess what?  The now vanishes and the other worldly portals of the road grow dim.  To experience all that a trip brings one needs to be right there and attentive to the now of the journey.  I know this to be true and have been in awe of how things just worked out, and in honesty have also missed so much, focusing on "life" instead of being in the "it" of where I was at the time on all those trips over the years.

So...what's the point?  Travel, let go of needing to be in control and see what everybody is telling you to see, step away from your guidebook and trip organizers then let yourself be free in the world of blessed coincidences.

Then, come back to where you are and bring this attentiveness to the moment with you. Be here now and let your life be one of openness.

Om Shanti...