Insights from the Pavement: Assessing time

Time means many different things, depending on where one might find themselves around the world.


There’s no denying that many of us have felt the impact of that very statement while lazing away in a hammock as waves crash down on the nearby beach.  Time, in that way, is only measured in terms of the piña coladas that separate the day into more of a detached sequence of sonatas playing out a in a grander symphony of relaxation.

On the other hand, those of us who’ve missed our bus to get to our downtown jobs know the very essence of even a single minute that passes through time.  Each minute, in this case, is more akin to a measure of frustration that shapes our realization that tardiness may cost us much more than the sip of a tropical drink.

These two extremes mark the very fringes of our expectation of time.  And most of us reside somewhere in the middle.  But when we visit a new place, we should be sure to pay close attention to what time might mean in the current location.

In the west, being punctual shows others that we are professional, dedicated and that others’ time is important to us.  In the east, however, being late might actually work in your favor, as it can also be seen to mean that a person knows his level of importance and therefore his lateness is the expression of that concept.

More times than not, our expectation of time while traveling abroad simply relates to the ability to catch a bus or that a train will arrive on the scheduled time.  But it is important to be mindful that this may not be a frivolous matter when dealing interpersonally with those who expect certain things of us.

Being invited to ceremonial events such as weddings, family feasts or annual celebrations hold a completely different prospect for those who did the inviting.  When in doubt of how to handle these occasions, it’s always best to show up early.  Having this in mind will keep us from looking as though we are either too humble and self-conscious, or too egotistical and feel that others should wait on us.

Developing this pattern while abroad may well be the catalyst for continuing this beneficial trend at home as well.

Follow me on twitter: @cyleodonnell

Like the photo from this journal?  Click HERE to visit the album of photography from the Samchoek, South Korea market where I took it.

Learning to Detach

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, 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.

This begs the question; how do we know what kind of change and in what quantity is good for us?  And as I have traveled I’ve found out that many of the times when I felt that change was needed, I resisted and stayed the course.  I started to feel unsettled, but when I voiced this concern people only told me that I needed to settle further – that all I needed was the safety and security of a good job, insurance and a nice credit score.

And who was I to question all these people who seemed to sing in unison the praise of a steady lifestyle?  But ultimately, this was not my path.  And once I left I found a kinship with the road that I had always known was there.  Because of that, I feel the most settled on the move.

I have always regretted not taking the initiative earlier in my life when I felt that draw to the nomadic lifestyle.  How many years of my life were wasted working in this job or that job only to see nothing more of my efforts than my closest neighbor? what could I have done if I’d taken the opportunity to go abroad?  How might my level of experience and personal wisdom have been influenced?

We can generally count on our friends and loved ones to have our best interests at heart.  And certainly it’s no stretch of the imagination to say that we reciprocate that notion.  But just because we receive advice from others it doesn’t mean that that’s what’s best for us — just like our well-meaning advice might not be the best for them.

Learning to quiet ourselves enough to receive the message that lies within is something that is just as important as assessing the guidance we receive from others.  And so it’s vital that we also separate ourselves from this inner information as well — giving ourselves the best chance at seeing this message clearly and applying it to our lives.

Looking at all the information that we have available to us from the perspective of objectivity will aid in coming to the right decision at the right time.  And in doing this, we also take the reins on our own path – another keepsake of the process of responsible detachment.

Join the discussion: When did you start traveling?  If you’ve never traveled, what do you think about focusing on your travel plans?  How will you be affected by your decision to listen to that inner travel lust?

Follow me on twitter: @cyleodonnell

Like the image from this journal?  Click HERE to visit the Naksan Temple photo album that I took in 2011.

Insights from the Pavement: Being Present

The world outside ourselves is sometimes hard to reach even in the most beautiful places.

Just because we’re in awe-inspiring locales, it doesn’t mean that we’re open to being awed.  And while it’s important to address the source of this distraction, it’s also important to remember that this moment is more important than what can immediately be gained by the worry attached to that distraction.

Having taken the necessary steps to put ourselves out in the world to experience each moment of adventure, we come to be more in tune with these moments as they present themselves.


Stopping to smell the flowers, Alaminos, Philippines.

The term, “stop and smell the roses,” takes on an illustrious, new meaning when we’re standing in front of flowers that we’ve never seen before and which don’t exist back home.  And every time we pass on the opportunity to take in the full flavor of each moment is an occasion that we may later regret.  In most cases, the only time that we’re able to fully conceive of what we’ve missed along our path is once that journey has ended.  And by then, it’s simply too late.

This is one of the amazing lessons that is engrained in our very core from our time abroad.  And for those of us who have exercised the option to take off and explore these intimate moments that make up the greater experience of travel, are the ones most likely to literally pause for just long enough to embrace and fully take in those moments.

The next time we find ourselves in a time and place where we realize that we may never have the opportunity to experience it again, we should always remember to be present in that moment, to notice the little details that brought that moment into being, and to simple be with the time that exists for us right then and there.

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

My new book, Insights from the Pavement, is a collection of 101 Travel Oms just like this one. Look for it to be released soon.

Join the conversation, tell me what you think about this idea. Leave your comments below.

Insights from the Pavement: Study Something

Because of the way that the human brain works, most of us have an innate gravitation toward intellectual pursuits.  Before going to college, most might say that they never knew that they were interested in subject that they never would have otherwise seen as intriguing.  Afterward they may find that they are excited to begin the process of dedicating their entire lives to this “exciting new field.”  This is because we are creative thinkers.  And therefore when we find something that entices us, we have the capacity to remain focused on that item.


This manifests itself in countless different ways depending on the various characteristics that we receive when we’re born.  But we can all use these characteristics to our advantage – it’s no excuse to be lazy.  On the road or at home, we can always be diving into academic pursuits that satisfy that inner geek.

Each time we encounter something that might spark our interest, we have an opportunity to exhaust and expand the options surrounding it.  We have the opportunity to expound upon known items, or to discover new ones.  We can create new, right-brained art that complements or represents the intricacies of our new found items.  Or we can publish scholarly works based on our left-brained investigations of them.

The brain is just like a muscle in that when we exercise it, it becomes stronger.  Flex that muscle, utilize the tenacity for artistic and intellectual pursuits and ready yourself for the many benefits that come with being more mindful, having a more developed sense of perception and finding yourself excited to learn and do more in the name of mental grace.

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

My new book, Insights from the Pavement, is a collection of 101 Travel Oms just like this one. Look for it to be released soon.

Join the conversation, tell me what you think about this idea. Leave your comments below.

Insights from the Pavement: Speaking with Integrity

Words have meaning.  We’ve all heard that before.  They all have applications to which we apply different significance and understanding.  We use them to craft our expressions, to shape our ideas and to bring vibrancy to our thoughts.

But they are more then just the symbol of their definition or a designation to the characterization of an idea.  They truly do mean something.


When we think about something, we are manifesting our creative energies into a melding of many things.  What is created is an amalgamation of logic, initiative, intuition, agenda, emotion, experience and many, many other things.

The words that we choose to put to these conglomerations are, quite literally, all our own.  They are unique to us and, because they are the chosen sum of all our creative senses, intellectual machinations and emotional responses, they can never truly mean to someone else what they mean to us.  They can come close, but they will never really vibrate in others’ ears as they do in ours.

It is because of this reason that words have so much power.  When we speak them, we own them.  When speaking from the heart or at times of passion, they are generated from the same place where we receive the inspiration for our hopes and dreams.  They come from the same place that makes us feel sad when we wrong someone or miss someone we love.  When we profess them, it is our truth.  We are held accountable to our words as they are our oldest mode of transferring the information within us.

Words are our key to the gates of communication.  They are the platform on which we are represented.  And, most importantly, they are broadcast as a sampling of our own culture when we communicate in foreign places.

And believe it or not, they are not put together the same way in each place we go.  Essentially, they are an individually selected consignment of ideas – complete with tonality, emotional communication, personal meaning, ingrained undertones and countless other facets of expression.  They’re even delivered in a package exclusive to their maker – our own voice.  And this remains a universal constant, no matter where we might find ourselves.

When speaking to others, we must ensure that we use this important method of communication to its fullest potential.  When we speak with integrity, we are helping to ensure that our true passion is expressed; that our real feelings come across; that we respect the thoughts of others and further their support with words of our own; that we are contributing to the exponentially increasing pool of positivity, wisdom and expression; and that we can be counted as inimitable patrons of forward-thinking construction of intellectual infrastructure affording embracement in the diversity of our own humanity.

In other words, think positively, speak positively and offer your unique perspective to the endless possibilities for change, unity and ascension.

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

My new book, Insights from the Pavement, is a collection of 101 Travel Oms just like this one. Look for it to be released soon.

Join the conversation, tell me what you think about this idea. Leave your comments below.

Insights from the Pavement: Placing Ourselves along the Path

Not withstanding a spiritual base, we are beings of forethought and of memory.  We can mentally transport back in time or forward in thought to places of fondness or profundity.  But it is impossible for us to physically experience anything outside of our immediate surroundings.  Because of that, our only true reality is found in the present moment.

The good news is that we all have the ability to make that particular moment mean something – minute to minute, if we choose.  And this opens the floodgates to a sea of possibilities.  We can find ourselves at any place on earth – barring few exceptions.  And if we realize that it is only ourselves that stand in the way of making our current moment a positive and enjoyable one, we will be much more likely to take the reins and be the change that we wish to see in the world.


While our governments and our communities have regulations, this life has no rules governing our movement or our creativity.  We are free to live it as we choose; to go where we wish; to make the memories that we choose to make; to create or to appreciate the creations of others; to learn or to teach; to explore or settle down.  We can do this with partners or all alone.  This journey can last decades or just moments.  It’s completely up to us.

This may sound like an intimidating responsibility.  But once we accept the idea that we all have this responsibility and, more importantly, that we have always had it, it becomes much less threatening.  And it’s not always applicable to the heavy decisions that our lives encounter.  But it’s nevertheless ubiquitous and it constantly influences which path we choose to take.

Many times I’ve wished that someone could make the hard choices in my life for me.  It would be so much nicer to just let go of the responsibility.  And I am sure I share this sentiment with many others.  But we, alone, make the choices along the path we take.  And therefore we are the ones who benefit from the grand and distinctive results that these choices place in our lives.  And in that, we are not only made better from our time facing these challenges, we also become much more intimately aware of our placement along the path that our lives reveal to us.

Knowing, appreciating and embracing this will do more to free us up for the positive changes in our lives than any other conscious action we can make.  And never are we more aware of these opportunities than during our time moving about the world, experiencing new cultures, taking in strange, new surroundings and exploring each moment along this path with veracity and enthusiasm.

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

My new book, Insights from the Pavement, is a collection of 101 Travel Oms just like this one. Look for it to be released soon.

Join the conversation, tell me what you think about this idea. Leave your comments below.