Rest and relaxation – Part 2

by Steve Brock on November 3, 2011

Last time we saw that I have this tendency to succumb to tourist panic, that condition that causes us (or at least me) to freak out on a trip, concerned I won’t see it all. I know it is stupid to feel this way, so why do I still do it?

When you plan your own days, you rarely plan on the small discoveries like this street in Cusco, Peru that blends Incan stonework (on the bottom right) with later Spanish buildings on top and on the left.

Peace of mind.

Or rather, the absence of it.

Many of us go on trips to relax. We hang around the pool or on the beach with a cold drink. Our only concerns relate to SPF and how to avoid poking our eye out with that little umbrella in the drink.

At least that’s the way we think it will be.

But no matter how relaxed we may be on the outside, without peace of mind, we just lie there, listening to the waves…and worrying about all those issues we thought we had left at home.

In my case in Cusco, Peru what got in the way of peace of mind was the fear of regret. I was concerned that if I didn’t see everything I could, I’d get home and regret what I missed.

But here’s the reality. I will always miss something. We all will. We can never see everything in a place no matter how long we’re there. So the very notion of trying to see it all is somewhat pointless.

What I ended up missing most that day wasn’t some museum or hidden find. It was piece of mind. And deep down, when I unpack all this, why did I lack piece of mind?

And you certainly don't plan on encountering the sheer joy of children getting out of school on this other Cusco street

Because I was, at that moment, traveling on my own. Sure, my family was with me, but I wasn’t putting their interests first. More importantly I wasn’t trusting that God could be part of that day on that trip. I’d prayed ahead of time for health, safety and to be open to what God would reveal. But on that day, I didn’t really trust that he was as interested in me having a good day as I was.

Why not? Is God a cosmic killjoy bent only on disciplining us when we fall short? Or do I believe – really believe – that he cares not just about my struggles but also about my joys? Clearly that day, I did not, or at least not enough to let it sink in to where I could rest in him and trust that he would work things out.

Virtually every time I find I’m missing peace of mind – on a trip or at home – it almost always relates back to this issue of trusting that God cares for me and for others, even more than we do ourselves.  I struggle almost every day to live out what I believe in my head and my heart.

But he knows this as well.

Which is why on trips like this one to Cusco, despite my best plans and worst obsessions and worries, God comes along and on a day packed with all the things I thought we should see, he reveals what we needed to see. For that afternoon, just as we began wondering what else to do, that’s when we unexpectedly discovered the luthier’s workshop and studio I wrote about earlier. It wasn’t on our itinerary. It wasn’t in our plans. But it was in God’s.

Peace of mind. It seems so elusive. But it – or rather He – is always closer than we think even when we’re thousands of miles away from home.

If you found this interesting, why don't you share it with others?


Rest and relaxation – Part 1

by Steve Brock on October 31, 2011

Cusco's Plaza de Armas. So much to see, so little time...

Rest and relaxation.

Such vacation goals sound so compelling yet they can be infuriatingly elusive.

Why? Because no matter where you go, there you are.

Let me restate that: there you are. You. With all your stuff. Not just what you pack in your bags but what goes with you everywhere you go because it is part of you: Worries. Attitudes. Preconceptions. Habits.

And it’s not just you.

I tell myself that being aware of what makes for meaningful travel enables me to travel better. And it does. Except for those times when I forget and get in the way of myself.

Let me give you an example.

Earlier this year when my family traveled to Peru, we had basically two half days and one full day in the ancient Incan capital of Cusco. We arrived in the late afternoon, wandered around the main square and had a wonderful dinner that evening. We came back to our hotel and I decided to wait until the next morning to plot out our itinerary for the next day. After all, our intent here was just to relax and take in whatever came our way.

Morning arrived, however, and that intent didn’t last long. After reviewing the numerous options available to us in Cusco, I quickly found myself becoming reacquainted with a familiar but unwelcome old traveling companion: tourist panic.

Tourist panic is that sense that:

  • You have a limited time in a place that costs a ton to get to and that you likely will never see again.
  • There are more sights that you want to see than will fit in that limited time.
  • You might miss out on something that you will regret for the rest of your life, as in forever and ever.

Or at least until the next day when the panic retreats and you’re on to something new.

But on this morning, with the whole day of possibilities ahead of me, I conveniently ignored that voice of logic telling me to chill. All notions of rest and relaxation got swept away along with our breakfast dishes.

Thus, heeding this unwarranted inner compulsion, I urged the family to hurry up. Then off we rushed to take in all that awaited us in Cusco, or at least all we could cram into this one day.

And guess what? Somewhere around 3:00 p.m. we ran out of things to do.

We’d seen all the must-sees on our list and everything else seemed either redundant or required more money, energy or time than we were willing to expend at this point in the day. Thus, all my stress to see everything did nothing but stress out my family and leave me wondering why I behaved in such a manner.

I hate this. I hate how I act when I feel this way. My family hates how I act when I feel this way. So why do I do this?

That’s a rhetorical question. I’m not really asking for input on my emotional life, though I’m sure some of you would love to weigh in on this one: Is it sin, over-control, issues from my past, an unmet need for closure, or altitude-induced sleeplessness? Yes. I’m sure all of those could apply.

But I believe it is something more.

Something that relates at some point to all of us.

Something, unfortunately, that you’re going to have to wait till next time to find out…

To be continued…

If you found this interesting, why don't you share it with others?


Return and Presence

by Steve Brock on August 16, 2010

Door of in-laws house

The house of my favorite in-laws in the world

Return almost always catches me by surprise. Of course I know that I will be coming home. But I’m never quite prepared for what that may mean.  [click to continue…]

If you found this interesting, why don't you share it with others?