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Archive for August, 2022

Mississippi River near Hannibal, Missouri

Late yesterday afternoon, we returned from a two-week road trip to Nebraska for my 50th high school reunion. Traveling with a dog and a cat, we stayed at six different places. All I have to say about that is I TOTALLY understand why it is called LUGgage.

Of course, it’s good to be home. All the contents of the many bags, boxes, and crates have been put away. I’m feeling grounded and grateful, especially in the knowledge of where my morning coffee will be when I need it.

One of the most exhausting things about travel is the constant need to adjust to new places, surroundings, and ways of executing everyday tasks. There are more question marks and exclamation points than periods: Where is the dog’s leash? Here it is! … Where do you want the cat’s litter box? Under the bathroom sink! … How does the bed feel? Wonderful! … Is there a grocery store close by? Yes! … Is there coffee for that coffee maker? It’s all Decaf! What’s wrong with these people?!?!

After a couple of weeks like that, the siren call to embrace routine and sameness is enticing. It’s so tempting to turn off my churning brain and slip ever so silently into the warm bath of mindless habit.

I was up early and went straight to the cottage for my usual meditation, prayer, and writing time. Back to the house, I fixed breakfast and almost pulled out my tablet to catch up on the news, something I hadn’t done in two weeks.

Then I stopped. Something was missing.

Where was the heightened state of curiosity and anticipation? Where was that sense of ALIVENESS? Where were my Vacation Eyes? Where were those eyes that looked closely at everything, drinking it all in with pleasure and satisfaction? Where was my mindfulness? Oh, there it is, soaking in a hot tub of habit.

I took my steel cut oats and fresh fruit—oh, how I’ve missed those!—outdoors, leaving my phone and tablet behind. I sat there, looking, really looking at everything. I used my vacation eyes to spot a dozen different kinds of birds and my vacation ears to hear the cry of a hunting hawk. I heard the cicadas and the songbirds. I heard the squirrels and the distant traffic. The sky was blue, and I saw fog clinging to the treetops, slowly dissolving right before my eyes as the sun rose. The air smelled fresh, the breeze was cool, and the breakfast was the best I’ve had in two weeks

I looked at my familiar surroundings with the vacation eyes I used to gaze at the Mississippi River from the cabin deck in Hannibal, Missouri. I felt the same awe in realizing I was seeing THIS scene for the first time. Nothing stays the same; everything changes. Maybe it’s the same tree, but there are yellow leaves where green leaves hung two weeks ago. And the blue jay squawking now will give way to the chickadee chirping in a few seconds.

Familiarity and routine are comfortable and can keep life flowing efficiently. Choosing how and when to use them is the key. After flexing my mindfulness muscles for two weeks, I want to make sure they get a good workout every single day. So, here’s to the eye opening gifts of travel and the warm embrace of home.

Nebraska Sky near Neligh, Nebraska

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