As many of you may know, in 1991, I spent 6 months in South Africa living with families, going to work with them, and hearing their stories of their struggles. What I learned most was how the South Africans live in the present.
What they are doing now is most important. Sometimes this means doing what you are doing longer than planned. It also means not interrupting what you are doing for something else. Being in the present is hard to do in our fast-paced Western society. I am heading back to South Africa for a visit in November, and I am intrigued to see how it has changed over the past 20 years. I hope that much has remained the same, but I know that with the young people, there will be change.
I work very hard at being in the present. My cell phone is for me to call out, not others to call in, except when we are making specific arrangements, such as an airport pickup. If I have company at my home and the telephone rings, I rarely answer it. I turn off my computer and email in the early evening. I used to do the same for the weekends, though I must say I am opening it more and more now. Some are for work and some are for personal. I am beginning to believe a telephone call is an intrusion into your lives, but on the other hand I know the telephone is the best way for us to really keep in touch with friends.
So what does this all have to do with travel? For me, one of the most important times to be in the present is when I travel. It is my holiday. I leave my Cambridge life behind and focus on “being” where ever I am. For you it may mean turn off your electronics: no smart phones, no newspapers, no television, no laptops, no radio or internet news. Just be where you are, eating the local foods, seeing and smelling where you are.Just be in the present. Whether I am on a beach is St. Lucia or driving a country road in Italy I can be in the present. It certainly calms my spirit and lets me concentrate on the thoughts and ideas that are important. Try being present on your next holiday or at home some weekend.
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