The Art of Being
My smile broadens and my cheeks balloon as I put another big bite of spongy goodness into my mouth. I’m eating what is more commonly known as a pancake. It isn’t the first one I’ve had for breakfast this week and it probably won’t be the last.
Across the table from me is a new friend who came into my life around the same time my pancake did. She is enjoying her own preferred version of early morning gluttony. The setting for this scene is a little more exotic than my choice of food but it is fast becoming as familiar to me as the meal that is delighting my taste buds. In between mouthfuls of our first fuel of the day, the subject of our conversation is how wonderful it is to be in a beautiful place like Thailand with endless opportunities to explore yet to still choose to spend every morning having breakfast in the same restaurant.
Both my friend and I have been known to travel here and there. We truly enjoy the inevitable expansion in consciousness that occurs when most of what surrounds you makes little sense to the conditioning of your brain. But as it happens, neither one of us has thus far felt a great need to spend our time in this country divided between lots of locations. In fact, the view from this restaurant is looking pretty good to us at the moment.
It’s funny how when you’re fortunate enough to get to travel there’s a tendency to feel like you have to see as much as you possibly can. When there’s a genuine urge to do this that is of course wonderful. How often does it happen though that our feet barely touch the ground somewhere before we’re on the bus to the next destination?
And if we’re honest, is part of the reason for our eagerness to rack up ‘sights seen’ because our loved ones expect us to ‘get the most’ out of our experience? But what if getting the most out of your experience means letting go of all preconceived ideas and doing exactly what you feel like doing? Sure a collection of photographs of the various landscapes of pancakes and their different toppings may not make for a very interesting show and tell, but it might be just what you need to explore.
My friend tells me she’s been having an amazing time not going to yoga class in the morning. Usually this is something she loves to do. Yet somehow even with the greatest courses on offer, the prospect of doing online yoga in her hotel room was much more exciting to her.
Just to clarify, I’m not advocating enjoying your trips largely from behind the closed curtains of your hotel room. It’s just that sometimes an inner journey takes precedence over exploration of the outer world. Simply put: when our needs so indicate, we do well in taking it easy even if we don’t fully understand why we feel the way we do.
There’s a tremendous freedom in honouring our true needs. And quite clearly this also applies when we aren’t travelling. It is always one of the most loving and therefore healing things we can do for ourselves.
The next moment two people sit down at the table next to ours. ‘Sawadee ka’, the waitress greets them and instead of giving them a menu she askes them the question ‘Same same?’. I suppose my friend and I are not the only ones who are finding solace in being a tad unadventurous. After our meal we exchange some tips about places to go and things to do, fully realizing we mightn’t get to even a single item on the list.
So far what I’ve most enjoyed on this trip has been soaking up the little things. The other day an elderly monk gave me just the most radiant smile when he found me enjoying the quietude of a local temple. Had I been in a rush to visit the next place of worship the depth of peace in his unassuming, yet complete presence might have escaped me. I remember thinking that one such a moment of sincere human contact is enough to make your day feel like it was a very productive one indeed.
I get up from our table and without much of a plan wander into the rest of my day. When I get back to the restaurant the next morning I find my friend right where I left her. I sit down opposite her and the waitress comes to take my order; ‘Same same?’.