Insights from the Pavement: The Balance of Calm and Chaos


One of the many pleasures of travel is that it takes us out of the daily grind, removes us from the office and whisks us away to a new and exciting place.  The joy that comes to us even before we leave is largely centered on that very idea.  And as our travel date approaches we often find ourselves lost in our thoughts of what this change from the norm will provide for us.

It is a naturally occurring phenomenon that we as a species need bouts of change in our routine.  For some, this change needs to be constant and continuous.  For others, only a random smattering of island hopping over the course of a decade will do.  But for most of us, breaking up the routine is something best timed on a yearly basis.

HundredIslands022_resize

Boats at low tide in Hundred Islands National Park, Alaminos, Philippines.

This begs the question; how do we know what kind of change and in what quantity is good for us?

My experience of resisting the urge to shake things up from time to time has left me feeling empty and anxious – needing something more.  Once I learned what that feeling was, it was easy to keep track of the pattern and how to plan for heading it off at the pass.

Of course, this particular rationale has the potential to help us deal with other patterns in our lives.  But it’s safe to say that working on overcoming restlessness and satiating our hunger for discovery will assist in taking care of many of these other needs that our bodies are sure to tell us about.

While on the road, there is nothing resembling the schedules that we hold in our at-home lives.  So it’s easy to see how this affords us a clear view of what’s left behind when the road has finished stripping away all that may have confused the message that our body was trying to convey.

So how do we come to understand these messages while still in our everyday grind?  The best option that I have come to find is ironically a time when I placed myself back into my at-home patterns through meditation.

While spending three sweltering days meditating with Zen monks at a monastery in Southern Thailand, I came upon a mental clearing which wasn’t easy to find, mixed in with all the rubbish that I hadn’t attended to in years.  I found that my body had missed the comforts of a well-planned routine.  And because I’d been traveling for many months by that time, I had never thought to look back into my old life where I was locked into a pattern devoid of any creativity.

In this routine, I’d wake up, do my morning stuff, prepare for work, head out and come home with the hope of having enough energy of making it through a movie before I passed out and awoke to do it all over again.

As mundane and underwhelming as that sounds, my body came to know it as a facet of safety for me.  If I had to plan each day from scratch knowing that I was in a new place with new eating, traveling and working schedules in the lives of the locals, my routine back home would serve me no benefit whatsoever.  And so because I was lost in this months-long pattern of incessant planning, practicing and executing, I never took time to notice that I’d given up that feeling of safety for my experiences on the road.

Perhaps it’s difficult to understand the dynamic that exists in this particular situation.  But simply put, my body was freaking out at what seemed to be a never-ending cycle of input without any sense of structure.  And in this way, I could see how the exact opposite would be true of my life in the rat race.  I’d have the same messages from my body, except they would be about the notion of needing something to break up that incessant regularity.

Having the right balance of roots and wings will do us the most good in finding out what and when our bodies are telling us important things.  Sitting quietly and making time to reflect on our day or week will create the best opportunity for us to listen to ourselves, to become in tune with the oscillation of our ins-and-outs, ebbs-and-flows and tos-and-fros.

Being able to whisk away and find adventure in the limitless dreamscape of the mind aids us in times of rest, while centering on inaction and motionless peace drives a ground rod through our chaotic moment on the move.  And in that, balance can be achieved anywhere we happen to be, simply by creating chaos out of quiet and stillness from disorder.

Like the photo from this journal?  Check out the album HERE.

Insights from the Pavement is a new style of blog that I am trying out.  These will be posted a couple times per week for the next few months.  And I am interested in what my readers and passersby think of them.  So be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

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