Experience > Expectation

Wherever you go, go with all your heart---and an open mind.

I was on my way home from Manhattan on a rush hour train and happened to find an empty four-seater section, where riders sit facing each other. I was the only one in the whole crowded car that went for it, and I definitely started to wonder why no one else took up a seat. I had almost convinced myself that I was actually sitting in something I hadn't noticed when I first plopped down...

Thankfully my rear was in the clear, and right before the train left I found myself seated across from this sweet older gentleman. I had my latest read down on the seat next to me (I'm getting really into mindfulness--please do send on over your recommended reads), and he pointed to the book, asking me how my read was going, then picked it up to examine the back cover.

We exchanged only a few words and only for a brief minute or two, spending nearly the whole ride without speaking more until just before we reached his stop. The reason why I don't mind sitting in those seats? Well, sometimes--just sometimes--you have an actual conversation with a person, face-to-face. It's nice to put down the iPhone for a few!

This particular fella was born and raised in Africa but lived, worked and retired from his job in Manhattan back in October. He was coaxed into working two days a week, doing something along the lines of consulting and marketing. His job used to require a lot of travel which he didn't mind when he was younger, but the two days a week he now commutes is somewhat grueling for him.

"I've already seen my fair share of the world" he said. (His favorite place? Leningrad/St. Petersburg, Russia)

"It's more beautiful than Paris."

I didn't get to go into how charming and beautiful Sevilla is to me, as he started buttoning up his coat to leave. One last thing, I said. What's the one thing you always take along with you on your travels?

"I never go anywhere expecting anything--from my culture or that of another. I never go bored or critical; I go with an open mind to embrace everything my destination has to offer. Good evening, God bless."

As this blog will talk about a lot of material things for your travels, I think it's important to remember that it's not only about the "physical," or just arriving to a destination. Being present and enjoying the journey with an open mind and heart will take you further than any bus, train or plane can, whether you're heading to a culture-rich city or home for a bowl of Mom's lentil soup.

When was the last time your experience blew your expectations away?