May 22, 2014

Our Lens, Our Journey

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But what if we go into the trip with an intention to explore? Really explore, as in “Let’s see where the day takes us.”

Some years ago we had a fun, retro café in my town and it had these coveted chairs near the window. I loved to read there or write in my journal on occasion.

One day I met a guy who lived in the community and he called the people who sat in those seats “posers.” He didn’t know I was one of them, but it got me thinking. Was he right?

Well, of course in some cases we’re all about the spot that lets us people watch or be close to the action; it’s stimulating. As the outdoor tables in my town begin sprouting up this spring and I am magnetically drawn to them, I often think of what that guy said and do a little self check. For the most part, I really do just dig sitting outside, sipping coffee and getting some writing or light work done. Bonus No. 1 – my self-employed butt gets out of the house. Bonus No. 2 – I get to experience the outdoors a bit. Bonus No. 3 – I get to occasionally interact with neighbors who happen by.

When it comes to posers, I have more of a travel scenario in my head. It goes something like this. You decide on a destination. You make a list. The trip becomes about checking items off the list for the sake of doing so. It’s not about ‘experiencing’ the sight, per se, but taking your picture in front of the sign to say you were there. But were you really? There, I mean?

Is that being present? Is it real? Is it living? Probably not. It’s posing. It’s fronting. It comes from seeing your life through another’s lens.

I know of what I speak. This was me in an earlier life.

But what if we go into the trip with an intention to explore? Really explore, as in “Let’s see where the day takes us.” There can be a loose plan, as in “Today, let’s hit this neighborhood.” And then … open. Whatever.

It’s a mindset shift and a behavioral shift.

After mega-bestseller Eat Pray Love was published, so many women wanted to duplicate author Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey. But they missed the point. That was her journey. The takeaway is to embark on ours, whatever that is. Fine if we want to visit the pizza joint in Naples that she so lovingly touts, but it may not carry that magic for us. We have to find our own magic.

My dear friends went to Italy recently. They were the first people I can recall who came back to the States and didn’t rhapsodize about the food. They weren’t blown away, and in fact said, “We’re spoiled. We’ve had so much good food in New York.” I thought it odd, but it took me a while to understand. They’re not Italian-American, like me, so they don’t consume olive oil by the gallon. Why would it excite them to have that fresh taste on their palate the way it would someone who has it all the time? The flavors there, one after another, stopped me in my tracks. But not everyone has olive oil running through their veins or cares to.

For them the architecture was notable, the Limon cello was amazing. Their journey is not my journey and my journey is not theirs. Duh. That’s the idea.

We have to forge and embark on our own journeys. It might sound like fluff because it’s an oft-used metaphor, but it stops being fluff when we actually do it. Maybe we’re already attentive to what that means and loving it, just not labeling it as such. Good. Let’s lead the way for others who don’t follow their own tastes and passions, who are shy about what they want their journey to look like.

That’s about attention. Let’s teach them to pay attention.

To enjoy that window seat from the inside out. Who cares what it looks like from the outside in? Your lens on the world. Your journey.

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