Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Beginnings

My very first experience meeting travelers was in London in 2011.  It was the moment I stepped off a plane after a 7-hour flight from Chicago and was about to continue on the next leg of my journey to Paris, where I would be studying for the next year.

It was also the moment that I realized I had just moved to another country with no idea who was supposed to pick me up on the other side of the airport gate.

What gave Susie away was the combination of a confused facial expression, a map in her hand and an over-sized backpack-esque bag next to her (what I now know are the tall-tale signs of a traveler).  Something drew me to the person that mirrored what I imagined was my own appearance, and we instantly bonded over our cluelessness.  Susie and I were eventually able to wonder our way through the Heathrow airport and find about 30 other lost-looking travelers like us.

And that's when it started.  For one year, I didn't see anyone I knew.  Every friend I made was a complete stranger the day before.  I traveled, laughed, drank, ate, took pictures with, got lost with and explored with people I never could have imagined knowing.  And many of them I probably wouldn't see again.

That's the first lesson I learned from travelers:  

Always live in the moment.

That's what it's all about.  When you are dwelling on tomorrow, yesterday or even later today, you miss the people right in front of you.  People that want to experience the now with you.  You need to do your best to capture that moment, and meet those people.

Remember to keep an open mind, having no expectations, if possible.  By doing that, your mind isn't waiting to meet the person or have the experience you have already planned out.  Instead, it's like a blank scrapbook page waiting to fill in the spot with a picture.

You will cherish these moments more and your memories associated with them will almost always be positive, because you have no expectations to scale them against.  Your attitude will also be the magnetic force that draws other people to you.

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