I recently traveled to Chicago with my husband for a conference he had there. Jim had meetings from breakfast until suppertime. We had events in the evenings, so I pretty much had the whole day to myself.
I went with little agenda, but a commitment to pace myself. I had been to Chicago on vacation with our family back when our sons were in middle and high school, so I had some familiarity with the city and thus, did not have a list of places to see or things to do. I challenged myself to travel with a greater awareness of place, to be fully present to the people I encountered and the places I saw.
Each day, I made a list of moments of joy I experienced that day. Here are some of those:
o The quiet of St. James Cathedral prior to worship
o The sleepy smiles I received from a just-awake toddler in a café at lunchtime
o Smiles returned as I walked along busy Michigan Avenue
o Witnessing a young couple holding hands as he walked and she guided her motorized wheelchair along the sidewalk
o A dog at the kayak rental shop along the Riverwalk, who wanted everyone to throw his ball for him to fetch
o The young man at the restaurant who made my lunch with joy
o The unexpected sound of raindrops on Lake Michigan in a moment when the din of morning traffic broke
o A pigeon at a pub, its eye on a crumb just inside the open door, sizing up whether to come inside and snag the morsel
Such moments are all around us, every day. Maybe you want to challenge yourself to be more aware of where you are as you go through your day. You don’t need to leave town to do this. You don’t even have to leave your house! All it requires is that you pay attention and be fully present in the present moment.