There are a number of reasons I love to travel. One of them is, it allows me to be more easily in each moment. When I’m home in my daily routine, it’s difficult to disconnect from the to-dos: home chores, biz dev, social meetups…there’s a constant running list of things begging for attention.
Getting away, even if it’s just an overnight road trip, helps to set all that aside and focus on what’s happening right now. When we can be in the moment, we can experience the magic of life happening around us.
This past Christmas, we went to visit my mother-in-law for a few days. She lives in Washington, south of Seattle. It was a holiday trip, yes, but it was mostly a trip of necessity because she hadn’t been feeling well. We felt we needed to get our eyes on the true situation.
Sure enough, as we drive off to the airport, my mind started to feel free to focus on the “now.” During our four-day excursion, I experienced magic in some very special moments around me.
Magic Moment #1: The Embrace – At the airport, we were standing by our gate while passengers exited the plane that we were about to board. (The airport is the best place to people watch, isn’t it? Now-a-days, people are mostly heads-down, looking at their devices, but that just means no one notices that I’m looking at them, ha.) Almost everyone had trickled off the plane when a young girl – maybe 12 years old – came down the gangway with a woman who seemed to be her guardian. The girl was walking tentatively, with wide eyes searching the crowd, when all of the sudden this other girl came barreling towards her, and – just in time for the wide-eyed girl to notice and light up with a huge smile – jumped into her arms. The two girls embraced strongly for a long time, laughing and crying and not letting go, and I heard the jumping-in-the-arms girl say, “I missed you sooo much!”
Time stood still for me in the 60 seconds of this encounter, like watching a slow motion movie scene. I thought, don’t look away, you’re witnessing something extraordinarily precious. You are a witness to this pure love, a deep friendship. I started to well with emotion, understanding what it feels like to long for someone, to miss someone so much, and then to finally be reunited, to feel whole again. I thought about childhood friendships of my own. I wondered if these girls would be lifelong friends and remember this moment. I would certainly remember it for them.
Magic Moment #2: The Snowflake – Our first morning at my mother-in-law’s was a little stressful. She’s been prescribed a number of meds since she had a heart attack last year. Unfortunately, it’s like trying to decode a foreign language, organizing these pills. It became too frustrating for her, so she’d just stopped taking most of them, and was feeling ill as a result.
My husband and I spent a couple hours untangling the web of meds. Later that morning, my dear sister who lives about an hour away, kindly braved driving in the terrible weather to come visit us. She and I and my hubs all went out for a hearty breakfast.
Back at the house, my sister said her goodbyes and I walked her out. It started to snow, pretty unusual for this part of Washington. I waved as my sister drove off, and dashed back to the front door of the house. But I stopped before I got to the door and thought, why am I rushing? When’s the last time I caught a snowflake on my tongue? I turned my face upwards to the falling flakes and dark tops of the pine trees, letting the snow hit my face. I breathed in freezing air, then caught a few snowflakes on my tongue. I felt joyful, like I was a kid again, filled with the amazement of snow. Holding that thought, I smiled and then rejoined the family inside the toasty home.
Magic Moment #3: The Joy – By the end of our visit, my mother-in-law was doing much better. She was eating a lot and feeling more energetic, and I felt comfortable with her improved state of being. We had a few gifts to share with her on Christmas Eve. She opened a couple presents that we oohed and ahhed over. The surprise gift was a teddy bear you can put it in the microwave to heat up and then snuggle for warmth.
When she pulled that fluffy teddy bear out of the gift bag, her face lit up like a child. She sort of gasped and laughed happily, and then held the bear up to her neck and patted its back very gently. It was one of the most touching moments to be in, seeing my elderly, Japanese mother-in-law, cradling this stuffed toy bear. All the worry about getting old and feeling unwell evaporated, if just for a minute.
Home again, it’s back to the hustle. I’m practicing recognizing magical moments in my everyday life, but it’s more challenging. It requires really slowing down and tuning in. When you discover you’re in one, though, be open to letting time stand still while the goodness of it settles in around you.
Obi-Wan: But Master Yoda says I should be mindful of the future.
Qui-Gon Jinn: But not at the expense of the moment.