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You had to be there – Part 3 — The Meaningful Traveler

You had to be there – Part 3

by Steve Brock on January 12, 2012

Say "hi" to my dog Ginger. With a nose like that, she's never at a loss for experiencing the world with all her senses...

We’ve explored some of the deeper meanings of the phrase “you had to be there.” We looked at how the Incarnation relates to travel and the idea that we always bear our souls with us when we travel.

Enough deep stuff. Let’s go a bit lighter this time.

“You had to be there” relates primarily to the notion that travel – good travel – is experiential. We engage people, places and situations when we travel with the fullness of our senses.

When we travel, we smell more (which could be interpreted that we shower less, but my point is that we’re more aware of scents – not always a good thing). We reach out and touch surfaces and feel textures we’d never be curious enough to bother with at home. We tune in to new sounds and are intrigued by new forms of music. We see more and often pay better attention than at home where familiarity blinds us to the wonder that lies around us.

And then there are all those exotic foods to be tasted…

In our routines and workaday lives we experience so little of the world around us. But the novelty of a new place opens us. All of our senses go on alert like over-caffeinated prairie dogs, popping up when we least expect them and alerting us that “being there” can mean feeling more alive.

I can try and describe this experiential way of living and traveling but even better is for you to experience it yourself. So today or sometime this week, just for a short while, go someplace and reintroduce yourself to your five senses.

Find a place to sit and do this exercise to attune yourself to those senses:

  • Listen for five sounds and try to identify them.
  • Look for five things you didn’t notice before.
  • Detect five smells (yes, it’s ok to get up close and sniff).
  • Be aware of what you’re feeling physically: cold air, soft seat cushion, scratchy sweater, etc. Find five things you feel tangibly.
  • Try a new food if the opportunity permits and then try and describe the taste.

Now if you’re gutsy, repeat the exercise looking for four, then three then two then one of each sense.

It may sound like a silly exercise. But try it. After all, there’s only one way to appreciate the fullness of your senses in a place.

You have to be there.


If you haven’t done so, check out the rest of the series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 2 1/2, Part 4 and Part 5

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