07 July 2009

Lost in transit

Why is it that whatever passes for my daily rituals, fledgling though they may be, get lost when I travel? And, is that necessarily a bad thing?

I've spent most of my life proud of my ability to adapt, to be happy in most situations, with most people, under many different circumstances. On vacation, especially in a group, I like being the "whatever" person. (* a note to those who know me well below...) I guess when I was growing up, I looked around my family of origin and figured there were so many opinionated people, my option was either to have an opinion and the argument that went with it or to go along and have a chance at some fun. The choice to not care too much about my choice is not a bad way to travel with a husband and two teenagers as I care more about simply spending time with them than I do about where we actually go or what we actually do.

But somehow, once I pack that suitcase, I don't just leave behind work and the daily to do lists, I leave behind even the things that have come to mean something to me. The result? I came home from this trip a bit sad and lost. Meditation? Once or twice in three weeks. Exercise? Only the walking that comes from wandering around in hilly places. Not bad but not enough for me. It wasn't all gray. I played cards with Luke and Matt, listened to them laugh together in the back seat, watched the sun set with Kevin in more than one beautiful place, met so many lovely people, saw a rainbow with Matt when we really needed to see one, and I read a lot of Faulkner. But I spent way too much time focused on logistics and deciding where and what we were going to eat and dealing with credit card fraud alerts every other day, so much so, I began to wonder what I ever liked about traveling in the first place. Maybe I used to like leaving my daily life behind. Now, I hated that part of it. I really felt like I had vacated my life.

I must confess I also did way too much scrambling to make things work for everyone, even jumping in to solve problems that weren't mine to solve, so no one would fall apart, all in the maniacal quest for the magical family trip.

And I wonder why I came home feeling the way I do?

But it was more than just the mother-in-charge thing... It wasn't until I got back to my desk and found the passage from the Bhagavad Gita I love so much -- "He who can see inaction in the midst of action and action in the midst of inaction, is wise...etc" that I got why I'd felt so lost in transit this time. I'd lost touch with some of the small actions I now take that help give me stability, peace, meaning: the time I spend every day alone; the time I spend meditating; the literature I reread most days because it helps remind me of what it actually important rather than what presents itself on a minute-by-minute basis as needing my attention. And it didn't get lost because of the outside swirl of the people I love or even broken down rental cars. I simply didn't understand it's importance in my life and the need to make very sure I didn't lose those small things I do every day simply because I was away from home.

I get it. Rituals are important.

[* Okay, my friends and acquaintances...I'm talking about vacation. Yes, I know and freely admit I have NEVER been the "whatever" person at work but that is another subject ;-) ]

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