I’m now home in Colorado. Already, it’s really different. If I want to go get a quick bite to eat, I can’t walk five minutes to several different Indian or Chinese restaurants. I get in my car, by myself, isolated from people around me, and drive to a destination.
The feeling of being in the world, apart of the local community, a thread in the web of daily life is gone. I miss that! And am adjusting.
Improvising and adapting
When I first started training and facilitating, I was extremely nervous. My way of coping was to meticulously prepare! Prepare, prepare and prepare….then follow the notes of the structure I built.
One day, I realized that was a very inflexible way to “facilitate training” and was based on the wrong priorities. Effective training isn’t about content, it’s about engagement. My notes engaged me in following my outline so I’d be comfortable. However, it didn’t focus on the needs of the people in the room.
I knew that was never going to be good enough! After considerable thought and consideration, I decided to take improv classes. BOOM! Things dramatically changed. The biggest change: I became more comfortable with me being me no matter what was going on around me. And I knew I could adapt to whatever need showed up.
Fast forward many years to travel and the same principle holds true. I cringe a little bit when friends show me an itinerary for a trip to a country and culture they have never visited and know little about. Information gathered from somewhere gets built into a structure, reservations and bookings are made and the schedule is followed.
That schedule leaves little room for magic! Overhearing a conversation in Guatemala, inviting myself to an adventure and I was soon visiting “hot waterfalls” in a remote village. They were not in the tour books! I didn’t know they existed!
A random article somewhere clued me in to a sauna outside Antigua, Guatemala. As popular as Antigua is, no one had heard of them. I persisted, finally learned how to pronounce the name correctly and was soon visiting. For $5, I had 30 minutes in a wood fired sauna, an hour massage and a glass of fresh juiced carrot juice at the end. Perfect! And all unplanned.
Peaceful islands, wild orangutan, zip line into a tree house, cooking classes, trekking, seeing the blooming refflesia (biggest flower in world), pink river dolphin in the Amazon, mouse deer in Taman Negara, visiting the mossy forest…..openness and flexibility breeds possibility!
Give it a try!
The same holds true for life! Tightly structured and over scheduled, with a minimum room for experiencing anything out of the norm and life just isn’t as interesting. I heard people on the return flight from Bangkok complaining about service, slow pace, how difficult it was to get a bill after a meeting and finally, how “is sure isn’t like Chicago”! If you want Chicago, stay in Chicago! If you want to experience a different culture and way of doing things, open up and flow with it!
When I travel, I read about a country and get a sense of the few things I really want to experience. Then, I book reservations for my first night. After hours of travel and generally a 14 hour time change, I want a place to land. Then, I talk to people, learn about experiences other travelers enjoyed and feel out what flow works for me! Clue: feel out, not think and plan out!
And in that flow, surprises always come up! And that flow is part of the reason I stay in hostels, home stays and budget lodging. People talk to each other! And they are often traveling for an extended time, leaving one experience and leading off to another in a consistent stream of full engagement.
My last morning at Travel Hub in Kuala Lumpur, I met Jess. She graduated University in the UK, got a good job, and after a while, realized she wasn’t happy. So she saved money, quit and is not in the fourth month of a six month journey. Six months unless she decides to extend it! Exploring! Traveling alone and learning about herself! Meeting a lot of new people! Savoring the host of experiences travel can offer when you listen, flow and move with what the moment presents to you!
I’m savoring those moments, savoring all the new connections and all the experiences that contributed to my amazing five weeks of travel. Thank you everyone!!!!