How Pete Tried to Ruin His Vacation Before He Even Left

One of the things I love about my friend Peter is that we are unafraid to talk plainly with each other. He has been a gentle voice when I needed it, but also has been the one who, with kindness, has told me the real deal. I have attempted to always return the favor when possible. Like today.

We were talking about my recent trip, and I mentioned how getting out of your environment can sometimes be what shakes things up, that which allows the things that are rumbling under the surface, waiting to come into some sort of order, to gel into something that has form and clarity. Knowing that he has a phenomenal trip to Europe coming up in short order, I said, “In fact, it will be interesting to see how you come back from your trip. Don’t think about stuff, but pay attention to what you feel and notice. There is gold there.”

His reply: ‘I am incapable of “Don’t think about stuff”‘

Now it is important to know that Pete has read my book. He’s done the work; he’s written a guest blog post for me and I for him. He knows about mindfulness. But sometimes we all need a refresher.

I reminded him to stand, to listen, to breathe.

“Unlikely to happen……” he said, “…more likely to happen: “Oh look, the Mona Lisa. Wow, she’s small. I could write small articles. I should make a mental list of small articles I should write…Star Wars, Star Trek, The Flash….oh, we’re done at the Louvre? Hmmm.”

So I reminded him to notice that it’s happening. Stop. Feel your feet on the ground. Listen to the sound in the room. Open your eyes, and look again. Because that? That’s the mindfulness habit. It’s the ability to notice when you are thinking yourself right out of the room…to notice, and then do that stuff that brings you back into the room, the street, the train.

Traveling and not allowing yourself to be present is a shame. It’s always a good idea to be present, even when we’re in a place that is close to home and familiar, we can experience that place in a way that makes it richer and more beautiful…more fascinating.

But paying complete attention when you are seeing things you’ve never seen before, framed in new ways, new settings, new language, makes it an even richer experience. This also means putting down the camera and seeing things without the lens between you and your world, feeling the air, smelling the scents, and feeling what it means to be in that place at that time.

So in his generosity and wisdom, Pete said, “You should make this a blog post.”
“I already decided that”
“And you should call it How Pete Ruined His Vacation Before He Even Left”

But I didn’t. Because he hasn’t. Because when I reminded him about how he could take control of his busy mind, he made the decision that he would do it. So he hasn’t ruined his vacation. He just came close.

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