I’ll start this blog with a line by Robert Kaplan…
“Travel is like a good challenging book: it demands presentness – the ability to live completely in the moment absorbed in the words or vision of reality before you.”
You see, there are very few things as hard as being present, and also practicing presentness. So, if it is so hard, why bother doing it? Well, the answer is simple – because it is worth it, and it is good for us.
Here’s why I think you should be present while travelling:
To experience peace and calmness in a fast-moving and overwhelming world
This is a major reason for travelling in the first instance – to free oneself of the hustle and bustle of daily living, to recharge mentally and creatively.
So then why would you get away, only to recreate a similar environment from which you were hoping to vacate from for a while?
To focus on the present rather than pondering over the future persistently
You see, there is always this tendency to worry about the future – to get ourselves worked up over something that’s yet to take place. And by so doing, we miss out of the fun of enjoying the present, of engaging ourselves fully in what is happening around us. Once we start capturing or measuring an experience, we trade pieces of it in exchange for its capture.
Sure, some might argue that capturing the experience is actually a part of it. I’ll agree to some extent.
To connect deeply with places and people
You cannot understand a people, and a place all at once. It takes time – to come to terms with the differences and confusion that greets us as we arrive at a strange location. And this makes the experience worthwhile – so that we will go back to our destinations with greater connection, appreciation, empathy, and care.
To be less judgmental and more open
When you travel, you’ll take time to observe your new environment, observe, and be present. Of course this tones down the judgmental tendency of the human brain. If we accept things the way they are instead of making attempts to evaluate them against our measuring sticks and preconceived notions, maybe we will be more accommodating to ourselves and to others.
HOW TO BE PRESENT WHILE TRAVELLING
I’ve given four reasons why I think you should be present while travelling. If you are still with me (which I’m sure you are), then let me share with you some practical steps on how to fully connect and be present while travelling.
Sit and be observant for a while
Sit still – for five minutes at least, and observe your environment, taking in everything that is happening around you. Try not to be judgmental or make sense of whatever is happening, just observe and appreciate life, no matter how insignificant it may be.
Let it slide by.
If you are visiting an urban area, you can sit on a bench in a park, or you could lean against a wall in a street corner to watch without garnering attention. It’s just like being in the middle of attention without being the center of attention. Maybe just like a fly on the wall.
Select a destination so that your mind can wander productively
This sounds oxymoronish, but you’ll have to agree with me on this. Select a destination (like a café, a bakery, sight, temple, etc.), but try not to bother yourself with the expectation that you must arrive.
One thing I’ve discovered about life is that the best experiences are usually the unexpected ones – the ones that happen while we are on the go, when we allow ourselves get lost, follow our curiosity, or in some instances, grant ourselves the freedom to not arrive at our destination.
However, while some may enjoy wandering without purpose, others may find it a pointless activity. Having a destination in mind, no matter how loose, will let us focus less on where we are going and allow us enjoy more of what is happening around us.
Give the device some rest
Try not to misunderstand me. I value photography. It preserves memories. Documenting a place is also important to many of us. However, there is a difference between artificial photography (LOL), and engaging things with our natural senses devoid of any barriers. Knowing that difference seems crucial to maintaining our human-ness.
By: Tia Lynn