Thursday, 5 January 2012

Holidays: same me, different venue

Whilst enjoying a change of scenery, I started to think about the psychological mechanics of holidaying.  It occurred to me that we are liable and likely to unpack from the suitcase far more than the baggage we chose to bring along with us for the trip.  Jon Kabat-Zinn summarised it in the title of one of his books: 'Wherever you go, there you are' - we can't help but unpack ourselves on arrival. 

I notice this in myself as on vacation I remain a creature of habit.  Like most people, I thrive on routine.  Familiarity is comfortable, and what is known feels safer than that which is unknown.  So, even during the shortest of breaks away, little habits emerge which, whilst radical adjustments from my usual routine, are themselves akin to a routine. 

"First we make our habits, then our habits make us."  Dennis Waitley

"Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters."  Nathaniel Emmons

Exploring a completely new place is an exciting opportunity to let the child within take up the reins: arriving in an alien destination presents numerous challenges and huge potential to experiment.  Approaching the new environment with the degree of curiosity and adventure one might observe in a child has the effect of radically influencing my experience.  As one can never be a stranger to the same circumstance twice, the opportunity is indeed valuable.  The test is to open one's senses more fully, to take in the vast amount of sensory information available, rather than remaining with the cognitive data we are apt to settle for.  Looking to see, and listening to hear can reap unforeseen rewards and provide a deeper experience than photographs can ever testify to. 

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