I flew from Boston to Raleigh last night with a wok (Christmas present from Sebastian's parents) as my carry-on luggage and a vow to actually build something of a life here for myself this spring. I've been defaulting "yes" to getting on every plane because I've got nothing meaningful here in North Carolina really keeping me around. I'll start, I think, by looking for the library this afternoon when I get out to the post office to ship a little something from Thailand to Karlie. Within the next week, I'll look up language meetups and pick a yoga class. And I'll make blues dancing on Friday a regular thing. I'm not cramming my schedule - these aren't commitments to attend, but solid options to opt-in on, and I'll try them out and trim and focus on the things that seem most valuable.

Every time I have good travel, I am reminded of my favorite T. S. Eliot quote.

We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

It's spiral learning.

I realized this winter that I'd (once again) gotten addicted to travel and thought as treadmills stopping me from actually experiencing the world, rather than focused tools for opening myself to life. It wasn't all mindless slog from one hotel room and airport to the next; I had excellent conversations, awe-struck moments, exhilarating wanders, and moments of solitary peace. But there was more machinery to my motion than I would like; I would like no machinery at all. Each trip should have purpose, because I want to be aware and live my moments with intent.

Easy to say, hard to do. I'm trying small actionable things to help me focus on the important, because I'm not falling back into my old routines of heads-down 24/7 marathon work without looking up to see if my manic dashes towards efficiency were actually affecting anything I cared about. Part of that, for me, is going to be taking the mornings seriously and setting myself up for awesome mornings every night, because if I have a good morning, I'm far more likely to have a good day. I'll also note that I'll probably fall back into my old routines at some point, but being conscious of that, and asking others to keep me accountable, and making sure I take these sorts of Sabbaths and retreats to refresh, will be helpful. Pursuing excellence is important, but not beating myself against the standard of perfection is as well.

A good reminder:

If your legacy was based only on today, what would you do? (from Jonathan Fields)

Max (my boss) asked me to spend the day on getting my non-work life in Raleigh back in order (so things like restarting my car's dead battery and obtaining food for the week are on the agenda). Work-wise, my main task for today is inbox zero and ticket triage; if I finish that I'll start on the financial side of things, which I will square up before Friday. Those plus catching up with Max at the office are the only things on my to-do list for $dayjob, and I'm actually taking this weekend as a weekend. I have been taking weekends for the past few weeks, and it's been wonderful - it helps, though, when I've got alternatives to Doing Work such as "see Paris with Sebastian." Ah, the joy of layovers. I'm glad we took that one; my back and nerves and brain would otherwise be shot from the 24+ hours of constant travel it would have taken to get back from Doha with no stops.

Which brings me to a side-note: I still haven't quite gotten over the fact that the Eiffel Tower twinkles. In all the pictures I have seen of it, nobody's ever mentioned this to me, so when we rounded the corner and I caught my first glimpse of the Tower and (in a bout of perfect timing) little white lights started shining all over it, my coherence for the next few minutes was reduced to stunningly intellectual statements such as:

  • It's the Eiffel Tower!
  • It has blinky photons!
  • Wow!

Anyway. It's probably going to be harder to enforce a true weekend when I'm here in Raleigh by myself, but going blues dancing on Friday night and doing another something (possibly that yoga class) physical over the weekend will likely help. If I find books in the library with recipes that freeze well, so much the better. Options, not commitments. Trying to ease options and reduce stress, not compound it by filling my time beforehand.

I'll start now by clearing my browser tabs (which mostly means watching a 10-minute video I've been putting off for weeks), making my bed, stretching briefly (more stretching later - I need to find ways to loosen up my tight hip muscles), taking a long and lazy shower, writing a letter, and then probably lying back down for a little bit before late breakfast. This is a very deliberately slow day. I can't yet move fast with awareness on my own. Learning.

Update: The 10-minute video is actually 12 minutes long, and definitely worth watching. Sir Ken Robinson on education. Thanks to Gui Cavalcanti for the link and the insistence that I view it - you should too.