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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Insights from the Pavement: Managing Conflict Interaction


While on the road, we’ll undoubtedly run into myriad characters from all walks of life and in various states of openness to foreigners.  Most of the time these interactions are extremely rewarding and all parties leave with anything from a simple, mild appreciation of the encounter to a very happy memory of the time spent together.  And then there are the “other” exchanges.

Sparing the explanation for this last remaining type of encounter, they really hold the possibility to ruin our day, to stymie our inertia and to darken our disposition – if we let it.  But that’s up to us, as it turns out.

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If we think back to the last confrontation that we had with a coworker or family member, what could we have done to resolve the issue?  Could we have walked away?  Probably not, if we wanted to maintain that relationship.  But was there perhaps a part of our personality that stood in the way of a more resolute ending to that situation?  Did we perhaps keep that situation going on longer than we should have because we felt we needed to win something or prove that we were stronger in the end?

Fore-arming ourselves with the general scope of conflict resolution, or the “laws of the land,” will assist us in gaining the confidence that we may need to make more appropriate decisions in these situations. Sometimes a subtle response is necessary to resolve an issue.  Sometimes a more aggressive, proactive initiative is what is needed to come away from a dispute on top.  In either case, each instance of tension needs to be seen as a platform holding the involved individuals in the fracas until one or all make the move to appease the situation.

This platform of conflict is supported only by the abilities of those standing on that particular platform at that particular time.  So if our ideology, wit or agenda is lacking, that platform is destined to topple.  This will lead to a less than optimal end to our conflict.  And we would do much better to realize that we not only have the ability to manage our own support of that base, but also to manipulate that of others as well – especially if we are conscious of their motivations or their general tack in confrontational situations.

While on the road it is best not to make too many assumptions about the nature of personalities in the host country.  But if a confrontation arises, remember that our mind is our most powerful tool in resolving these matters.  And at that point, it all comes down to how much we wish to invest in bringing our ends to fruition.  Do we want the situation to end immediately?  Are our goals worth remaining in the confrontation longer?  Or is it somewhere in between.

In any of these cases, it’s best to assess these last few questions at the very onset of each conflict.  It will aid in saving money, saving face and even saving pain.  And if we know how to manage the emotions of our opponent, we will always win, no matter if they ever realize it.

The only thing left to do after the conflict has ended and all parties have gone their separate ways is to look back on the experience with an open mind, knowing that we have the opportunity to learn a lot from our adversary – and for that, we should always be silently thankful to them for offering us this valuable lesson.  This will bring us one last moment of positivity in an otherwise negative moment in our lives.

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: Being Mindful of Our “Selves”


While visiting new places, we don’t always have the benefit of relying on our previous scope of reading body language and facial triggers to get the true sense of what people in other cultures are used to portraying.

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In the steppe of the Himalayas, clapping hands is used to ward off evil – so that group of tribal people is not welcoming you with applause.  In the mountains near the Golden Triangle, folding hands together while overlapping the fingers is a sign that you would like to have sex – not that you’re simply waiting contently for your bus.  And unconsciously holding your hands out to shape your frustration at the border in Malaysia will tell the guard that you are trying to affront him and take away his power.  And none of these instances will certainly do any good in aiding your cause.

Even the most common and lifelong mannerisms that we know from back home will serve up only confusion and mistranslated initiatives on the road.  So it is important that we take the time to research these possible losses in translation, watch others for what they do and try to pose as little a threat as possible while navigating this new world of foreign expectations.

Often we just don’t think about the gestures and subconscious language that we are using to transmit our ideas.  And while it is difficult to know just how we will come across to the people of new cultures, it is also important to simply remain continuously aware and cognizant of our movements, tone and general presentation.

The more time we spend being mindful of your personal expression and presentation to others, the more we become aware of how we come across in our home lives.  And this lesson will continue to benefit us as we will undoubtedly engage a countless array of personalities throughout our lifetimes.  And while it’s not possible to know how someone will react to you based on their own personal opinions and perspectives, it’s at least possible to be chary of our own intentions throughout these interactions.

Insider’s info: On the road, I have learned many universal no-nos.  Here are a few:

  1. Never raise your voice – no matter how frustrated you are.
  2. Never move directly at someone or offer your hands to them (unless to assist someone) – no matter how innocent your intentions – unless it is done to you first.
  3. Making direct eye contact is both expected and considered rude, depending on where you are – find out beforehand.
  4. The clothing that you wear (or don’t wear), as well as tattoos/piercings that you may have may directly conflict with local cultures, beliefs or traditions.
  5. Public displays of affection are best avoided.
  6. The oldest male of a particular group is normally the most respected. Don’t piss him off.
  7. Don’t spit, litter, trespass or eliminate on city or private lands.
  8. Never do drugs under any circumstances while traveling.
  9. Smiling is sometimes seen as a less-than-honorable invitation. Find out beforehand.
  10. If someone bows to you, try and reciprocate in the same manner (eye contact/eyes down, hands together/at the hips/together around the face, etc.).

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.