Why Part 2 ½? Because this isn’t a new thought, but clarification of the last one.
One of the benefits of travel is that it helps change your perspective. You don’t have to fly halfway around the world for this to occur. Sometimes walking down the corridor to talk to a colleague in his cubicle or crossing the street to catch up with a neighbor in front of her home (as opposed to yours) changes how you see and think about the world.
In short, small changes of place can lead to big changes in perspective.
What I was reminded of a few days ago is that people serve the same function. They help us recall what we know but have forgotten or provide insights that connect the dots in ways we may have missed ourselves.
Earlier this week, I had lunch with my friend Al who was commenting on Part 1 and Part 2 of Media, Marketing and Meaningful Travel. I jumped in by summarizing how they were two opposing thoughts; fasting from media and marketing impressions on the one hand, and embracing those same impressions with a heightened sense of awareness on the other.
I expected Al to agree. After all, that’s what friends do. They tell you what you want to hear, right?
Not good friends. Good friends tell you what you need to hear.
In this case, Al pointed out that what I perceived to be opposites were in fact complimentary. Here’s why.
In order to do the latter – notice certain things like the soap dish or wallpaper in my hotel room – you have to practice the former: You have to intentionally shut down your intake or else you simply can’t absorb it all.
He’s absolutely right. We cannot sustain for long a constant influx of sensory stimulation or at least do so in a way that enables us to focus. We have to restrict the intake of a vast number of things in order to truly observe and pay attention to a few things.
We do this automatically in daily life by forming habits and routines. This is why we rarely notice what lies along a familiar route to work or school. It has become background scenery out of necessity. When you’re in a new location, however, and everything is novel, you have to intentionally choose what you will notice. You probably don’t even notice that this is, in fact, how we notice.
When you do pay attention to something, it adds value to what you see but more importantly, it teaches you how to see in a new way. Do this enough, and pretty soon you start discovering that wonder is all around you but too often, simply overlooked.
All of this is familiar territory and something I not only know, but tell others about all the time.
Except when I forget it myself.
At such times, I have to be reminded – by travel or the words of a good friend – of what is important but too often lost amidst the noise and busyness of everyday life.