“We are human beings, not human doings.”
I was in Washington D.C. this weekend and saw this quote on a napkin stuck to the wall in Baked and Wired, a crazy amazing coffee shop and bakery (seriously, go get one of their cinnamon rolls and prepare to have your mind blown.)
The distinction between being and doing is one that’s been made very apparent to me over this past year. When you’re traveling, I think it’s one that needs to constantly be on the forefront of the mind.
It’s really easy, especially when you’re in a place with so many things to do such as Washington D.C., to make a list, take a selfie and check things off.
Selfie at the Washington Monument? Check.
Picture of the kids in front of the White House? Check.
Elbow a hundred other people aside to get a picture of the changing of the guard at Arlington? Check.
It can be tempting when on a trip to do, do, do. I’m one of those people. I don’t want to lounge in a hotel room and read a book or sleep in. I’m up with the sun and want to make sure I’m making the most of my time in a destination.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do and do it all. But the motions, the pictures, the hopping in and out of the rental car will not be what you recall about the trip in ten years. If you take the obligatory Snapchat and race on to the next stop, you’re going to miss the being. The being in the moment and letting it engulf you. Whether that’s cracking up with your friend over your horrible Uber driver or taking a few minutes to actually read the Emancipation Proclamation and letting the goose bumps appear on your arms.
Those are the moments I’m going to remember the most. The moments where I wasn’t worried about fitting everything in, or getting perfect pictures or making sure my companions were having a good time. When you let yourself truly be in the moment, the moments stop being items on a list and start becoming a memory.
If you feel that you might be doing more than you’re being, if you’re tired or stressed or just want to get on to the next sight, stop for a moment and close your eyes. Take a deep, yoga breath (inhale through your nose to the count of four and exhale out of your mouth to the count of four.) Ground yourself and make sure you’re really present in the moment. I guarantee you’ll start to notice more. I guarantee you’ll start to feel more.
Be mindful. When we stop doing and start being, we start to see. We start to smell. We start to breathe and to laugh and to feel. We start to live.