Monday, January 12, 2015

The Mindful Traveler

If you scour the Internet, you will find thousands of ways to be mindful, and they are mostly correct. Mindfulness is the just the practice of focusing on the now, so that intrusive thoughts that poison us do not ruin what we are doing. As I am focusing on revising my collection of poetry, my wife and I have decided to focus on mindfulness as much as possible. We always take a trip on my birthday, which also happens to be our anniversary, so we decided to be as mindful as possible.


The mindful vacation turns out to be a strange kind of thing. We want to experience the place we are without distracting thoughts about the future, so we got on the 101 freeway in Los Angeles and started driving north. We’ve been in the Central Coast of California a lot. However, we tend like most people to fall into patterns, and our Central California trip started as a pattern 19 years ago when we went there on our honeymoon.


Since our honeymoon because we have been living in the past and dedicated to arriving at some destination in the future, we’ve missed what was going on around us. My wife, an artist, had me stop at places so she could sketch her watercolors. We got off the highway and turned up streets that had strange sounding names.


Maybe my favorite part was to explain to a server in our restaurant or a hotel clerk what we were doing and ask that person where we should go. If you ever do this, you should know that you have to tell the person you’re talking to that you don’t want to do the typical touristy things. Otherwise, you end up someplace you already knew was there. You have to find out what they really like to do. If you ask them what to do in the morning, you will find yourself doing something fascinating all day long. Usually it’s free too. People don’t tend to spend their casual free time doing something they can’t afford.

The important part in terms of writing is that Ann and I have put ourselves into the kind of headspace we need to be in to write and make art. Revision is where the true art of writing lies after all, and I have spent weeks now getting into that place I need to be in to have the focus I need.

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