Remembering how not to know it all

18 Jan

We are just back from a wonderful trip to Europe, thanks to the magic of frequent flier miles. We visited Istanbul, Prague, and Lisbon, all for the first time, not knowing anything of the local languages except for “please” and “thank you”! We awoke to morning prayer calls rolling one over the other (at 6:16 am!) from mosques in Istanbul, inhaled the warm cinnamon scents of trdelnik at the Prague Christmas Market, and heard a young man in a black suit sing wistful fado music in a narrow Lisbon alley while wood shuttered neighborhood windows swung open above him to take in the sound. We understood only what our raw senses absorbed.

And I was reminded of one of the great benefits of travel: how exhilarating it is to not know your way, to discern small patterns and gain one’s bearings, to communicate and connect without the abstraction of words, to be fully present.

We didn’t quite realize the power of this experience until we arrived in Dublin and were surrounded by English again, albeit with a lilt. On the bus, on the street, in cafes– we could eavesdrop, whether we wanted to or not and it was distracting, even annoying to find ourselves sucked into the swirl of it all! Still, Dublin was lovely too!

Here’s three trip-inspired New Year’s resolutions for 2013 that I’ll try to carry forward in work and in life:

  • to hold open the mindset of discovery
  • to pay closer attention to what isn’t put into words
  • to relish the anticipation of learning something truly new from unexpected sources

Happy New Year– here’s a glimpse of the trip below!