I like a plan. In fact, I thrive on putting a plan together. I plan trip itineraries, budgets and social events. Even my day job centres around a plan, priorities and impending future deadlines.
However, the most important thing travel (and life in general) have taught me, is that it’s extremely important to live in the present. There are two Rachels. When I’m not travelling I sometimes get caught up in future plans. My commute is long and horn-filled, work challenges can be frustrating and evenings are passed all too easily in front of primetime drudgery, looking forward to the weekends. This is routine mode. Travel Rachel would be ashamed of my inability to notice the little things – a shared joke with good friends, a hard deadline achieved or just a pretty morning sky.
Recently, I was jolted unpleasantly into remembering my travel self. Extremely sad and sudden news about a work colleague, who isn’t much older than me, not only shocked, but also acted as a harsh reminder of life’s most important lesson. That evening on my way home, I took it all in: The icy winter air hitting the back of my throat, the weary faces of fellow commuters and the bars lighting up for the evening’s entertainment. Everything seemed to be in high-definition.
After crying I tried to rationalize my upset. I realised that although I’d only worked with my colleague for a short time, it was a mere moment that had made an impact on me. In the space of five minutes a few months ago, they had asked my opinion, they had respected my suggestions and most importantly they had made me feel that my role mattered. I left that meeting motivated and thought: I’ll always aim to treat people with as much kindness as I’ve experienced today.
Life is full of these memorable and defining moments. Very often we’re blind to them at the time because we’re anxious about tomorrow, busy planning for the months ahead or simply letting past moments trouble us. We lose ourselves in anything but the present. When I travel, these inconsequential extras slough off and I can focus clearly on the details that really matter. Whether it’s reaching a mountain summit, a moving piece of music or the sun dropping over the horizon. I’m in the moment, capturing it.
And so from now on, I’ve decided to bring my travelling self into daily life much more. I will look up at the sky before entering the office, I will try and see the comic side of any frustrating situation and I will plan to live in the present. My point is this: Planning is often useful, sometimes necessary and occasionally quite fun, but we should never let it stop us from living our day as the series of extraordinary moments it is.
Let’s not forget that it’s all about the moments.