Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..
Traveling enables me to take a “step back” and put life back into perspective. When you’re not caught up in the daily demands and constant grind of work you begin to realize what is truly important. The bigger picture incrementally starts coming into view as you put some distance between you and the primary anxieties wearing you down.
Sure…working hard and making a good living is extremely important and necessary, however its also healthy to STOP every once in a while – take a “step-back” and try to appreciate the little things such as good conversation over breakfast, the rich smell of morning coffee and the way crisp morning light peaks through the kitchen window casting long dramatic shadows across the counter.
The old cliche still rings true…“Stop and smell the roses” or as we say in New York, “smell the coffee”. I’m doing that right now as I write this blog post from a small cafe off the beaten path in the town of El Tunco, El Salvador. Just being able to slow down and be more aware of every little action, moment and detail as we move through our day enriches our existence as we travel on our sojourn through life.
Being able to truly appreciate and savor the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, the smile on a child’s face, the breeze rustling through the trees, sound of the waves breaking on the shore and the robust, earthy taste of a strong cup of coffee is an art form unto itself.
You can’t do these things if you are constantly in a rush and teeming with stress and anxiety over work and family pressures. That’s why I believe it’s crucial and mentally / emotionally healthy to take breaks (vacations/travel) from work even if they are brief respites from your daily routine.
Up until 2 months ago I was so caught up in the demands of my teaching and administrative career I couldn’t truly appreciate the “little things” like I do now traveling through Central America. My days are slower and I’ve got more time to read, relax, photograph, write and simply enjoy each moment as it unfolds.
So try to carve out a little personal time to just STOP and smell the coffee as they say. Give yourself permission to do nothing for a day. No agenda – no plan. Let the day unfold on its own. Make a concerted effort to appreciate and savor the little everyday activities like making coffee, taking a walk in your neighborhood, watch birds fluttering in the trees, the breeze cooling your face or a chat with a good friend. You’ll be surprised and amazed at how better you’ll feel by the end of the day or weekend.
Stepping back is rejuvenating and refreshing physically, mentally and emotionally. You’ll be recharged and ready to take on your everyday work routine. This all sounds easy to do, however you will most likely discover it is more of a challenge than you may think. I’m no mystic or yoga master by any stretch of the imagination, but there is a “Zen” aspect (dimension) to seriously “letting go” – “stepping-back” and being able to savor the tiny details (moments) of life. Don’t get discouraged if you find yourself worrying about work or family issues. Learning to “let-go” is a process – it takes some time and a commitment to break free of the “meat wheel” that can be all consuming.
It’s really all about slowing down your life for awhile. Americans for the most part really struggle with this – me included.
On a personal note…I find traveling and slowing my mind and routine down also nurtures my creative vision and creates in me a deeper awareness to the world which feeds the writing and photography.