“Travel is medicine. It resensitizes. It opens you up … It forces your childlike self back into action.”
… the opening lines of ‘To Shake the Sleeping Self’ by Jedidiah Jenkins One paragraph in I knew I’d love the book. I didn’t just read those lines. I absorbed them. They shook me. Reminded me of far away places and long-ago adventures. Sunshine and excitement. Relaxation and restoration. One paragraph in, Jedidiah shook this sleeping reader.
Words that resonated, in part, because, for a year now, we have been unable to travel. Robbed of the pleasure of planning that next trip. Of exploring a part of the world we’ve never seen before. Or returning somewhere meaningful and magical. Somewhere guaranteed to restore the soul.
Yesterday we searched closer to home – driving four kilometers, instead of flying four thousand. Low budget travel – a couple cookies, a thermos of coffee, and a bag of stale breads for the seagulls.
We needed to be away from home, together. Away from to-do lists that never ended. Away from the television. Away from minor tensions and an epic tantrum.
We needed air and water and trees.
We found them. Along a shoreline so close to home we had taken it for granted for years. Never stopped. Never explored.
Here’s something else Jedidiah Jenkins wrote: “When you are a kid, everything is new. You don’t know what’s under each rock … So, you look. You notice … Every second has value.”
The essence of mindfulness. Finding value in every second. That does not mean every moment is pleasant or welcome. Every moment just is.
Every day I struggle with being present in the moment.
It’s worse than that. Every moment I struggle with being present in the moment. My mind races. Five minutes ahead, five hours ahead, five years ago.
Five. Our daughter is five. Yesterday, at the beach, she found value in every second. She didn’t just feed the seagulls. She made seashell sandwiches, fan-shaped shells, filled with water and layers and layers of bread. The seagulls swooped in – fighting, clamoring, the winner soaring away with every morsel in its beak. The losers squawking for more.
We discovered secret passages – pathways through dense trees. We scampered up rocks and across logs. We saw a sad face carved in stone, and memorial plaques mounted on boulders. Plaques that showed that this had been a special place to others. They too had come here and valued every second.
I’m still reading Jedidiah’s book. He’s in South America now, nearing the end of a bike trip that began in Oregon. A pre-Covid trip. I envy him – envy his travels, his insights and his talent.
Soon after I met my wife, she travelled to South America. She flew in rickety planes, ate great food, and experienced people and places that I – that all of us – can only dream of now.
Places and trips that happened years ago. Places and trips that might happen again, depending on vaccines and variants.
In the meantime, I’m thankful that Jedidiah and my daughter remind me that every second has value.