Vacation Equals Presence

The anticipation. The excitement. The planning. The packing. Vacations are perfect opportunities to find whatever you are looking for at that moment. Perhaps it is needed rest and relaxation from the stress of a high pressure job, getting off that hamster wheel for a few days. Perhaps it is time with your family while you aren’t running from one thing to another. Perhaps it is time with your partner reaffirming your love and connection. Perhaps it is to celebrate a major life event. Perhaps it is for some time alone, to recharge and find you again. It could be any or all of these reasons to take a trip away from the every day and go somewhere else. 

Life is so complex today that we find ourselves so often thinking about what we “have to do”, focused on tomorrow. We worry and are anxious about what needs to be done, what money we owe, what the kids need, what needs to be done at work. Do we ever stop and truly smell the roses? That sounds cliche but it is truly that moment when we are truly living. That moment in time when we aren’t replaying the past or worried about the future, when we are experiencing the moment when we truly feel joy, love and really live. 

As I stood on the hallowed ground of Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, I could feel the emotion of the moment throughout my body. I envisioned D-Day forces storming the beach to waiting German troops. I could see in my minds eye landing crafts coming within 100 feet of the shoreline in waves bringing more US armed forces. I could see my 17 year old dad on one of those carriers helping soldiers off, getting to the beach and finding bodies of the fallen. The enormity of that day had never been so clear than at that moment. I wasn’t worrying about a thing, I was focused on where I was and how amazed I was as I heard parts of history I had forgotten or perhaps never really known. During this moment my entire body felt alive. I tingled with excitement. I cried for the loss of life. I thanked God for my fathers safety. I reveled in the stories of all of the allied forces coming together to liberate Europe. I felt pride in my father and all who fought on these and other fields. I saw things in the museum that hurt my heart and made me angry, and I felt the enormity of it all. Yellow stars that members of my family had to wear. Leaders who wanted to rid the world of a religious group, or anyone who didn’t fit their view of a race worthy of living. I cried at the thought that we are reliving some of that today.  I stood in awe of a generation of soldiers and leaders who wouldn’t let this happen and realized that may not happen today. Allies would not fight today to keep all people free. 

Yes, I was alive and I was in the moment. That may have been the most in the moment I was on this trip. And it awakened me in a way that I will be changed forever. It reminded me that life is only really filled with joy and love when in the moment. Life is only experienced in the moment. Otherwise we just move through time, from one obligation to the next, with very little emotion, very little life. 

Perhaps it is time for each of us to take stock of our reality. Do you experience the moment enough or are you thinking about the future too often? Are you really present, enjoying the meal you are having or the people you are with or are you thinking about what you “have” to do? Are you truly experiencing where you are and who you are with or is the phone more important? Are you replaying yesterday or forecasting tomorrow and therefore not really living today? 

I, for one, want and need to be much more mindful and present in the moment. After experiencing the emotion and “aliveness “ of my time in France, I want more. 

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