Saturday, April 17, 2010

being here now

I often find myself trying to recreate the sensations of being in Asia, just as one might try and remember an old lover, trying to recover the nuances, the fine details. It is funny, I knew that this would happen. It isn't a desire of wanting to return, but just a nostalgia for a time in my life. Sometimes, when it is hot, as it is today, I re-imagine the heat pressing down on my back, the sweat drawing rivers down the small of my back. I'm in Chichen Itza (well just outside), the hammering footwork of the traditional Yucatecan dances thunders from down the hall, and all the tourists look damp and uncomfortable. Ice cream or ice lollies seems the most accepted solution to the pounding sun. I opted for doing my accounts over a tour of the ruins under cloudless skies. One can only admire 'el castillo' so many times before it just becomes another 'pile of rocks.'
Back to my first tangent, Asia. My recovering of memories, or attempts at it, highlights the very core of travel. Newness, stimulates us, it fires all sorts of excitement in our nervous system. Think of your first view of the crested pyramids at Tikal, the first scent of lavender in the fields of France, your first sip of wine, the smell of Hawaii as you step of the plane. After a while these things fade, they become less impressive, the become rote, or routine. After a little while Hawaii smells like any other place, our demons and hold ups follow us and we become ourselves, the same cranky self we are at home just in an exotic locale.
But here is the very lesson, those first moments are when we are hyper-aware, when our senses our sucking up every vibration of information, we are open and in the moment, more focused on the sensations, than the email we might have to send. And I am pretty sure that is where the delight in living life comes from, the more in-the-moment we can be, the more engaged in what is actually going on around us the more satisfied we feel with life.
The thing that scares me is that modernization and technology seem to want to move away from that very concept. Actually I am guilty of it as this very moment, I am sitting at the outskirts of, 'one of the world's new 7 wonders,' with headphones in, typing away on my netbook. What does this have to with Asia? When I made the choice to leave Asia I suddenly became aware that my time there was suddenly limited and I wanted to take advantage of everything. But I realized that running about like a crazy woman trying to do every last thing was never going to happen. I instead turned to trying to enjoy every last experience that I could have. But this isn't something one can do only while traveling, it is an everyday practice to enjoy the very process of living. When is the last time you took the time to enjoy the process of bathing? Of eating? Of sleeping? We have the chance to make our very living into a ritual of joy and pleasure and yet so many of us turn it into a chore.
Maybe this is all way too woo-woo and out there, but I think there is something to this. Something to finding pleasure in the very act of being. At least this thinking helped me get my expenses done.

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