As I set out on a recent trip to Ireland, I gave myself permission to vacate. That for me means letting go of all the threads of consciousness that keeps me tethered to my everyday life. For fourteen days I released the thoughts connected to what needs to be done in my regular daily living. The funniest thing became apparent to me from the minute I said: “Go.” I found myself being extremely present almost hyper-present in noticing all the human subtleties around me. The best of this experience was the immediate awareness of how truly kind and good intentioned most people are. It is delivered in very subtle and common terms and because we humans operate often in autopilot, we may tend to miss those subtle yet ever-present human connections. So, for fun and to really be an alive part of those connections I intentionally made a point of turning off autopilot with a deliberate tuning in.
When I took off my blinders, what great things I saw and how joyful and connected this all made me feel. Ordinarily I may not even catch the name of the van driver among all the hustle, Percy, a very friendly Hilton airport van driver introduced himself and loaded our bags. I had a few dollars out to tip Percy upon our arrival and couldn’t help but, notice how friendly and courteous he was in the short drive to the airport. As he says “bless you” to my sneeze, I discreetly upgraded my tip ready to gratefully express gratitude for his pleasantries. Next, we decided to grab a bite before boarding the plane and settled in on a spot. Seated close by was a female solo traveler. She began by offering advice delivered with a smile and a suggestion for what we might like to eat. This suggestion opened up and hour and a half conversation with 48-year-old, school teacher Tonya and the funniest shared stories of her solo travel. We enjoyed her and her delivery so much and suggested that when she gives up travel to try her hand as a stand-up comedian. It was time to board the airplane and our United Flight attendants all at least in their 50-60’s remained so pleasant throughout the red eye over to Shannon. Don’t know about you, but let’s get real, I would struggle to stay up all night maintaining a smile tending to a full aircraft of passengers. Our arrival into Ireland was early local time and the Irish through customs were in usual style as friendly as can be. Off to pick up our rental car and Jim the rental agent says “good morning ladies” and discovered we were way early for pick up, but Jim quickly says “no worries” he would have a car for us just after our first cup of coffee and to our surprise it turns out it was an upgrade. Settling into our first hotel stop “The Old Grounds” in Ennis (highly recommended) where friendly Clare, greets us with a “welcome” and informs us that our hotel reservation is actually three days off! But she quickly says, “not to worry” and finds new accommodations within the hotel for us. And the great connections continued on and on from there throughout our trip.
In the everyday exchanges of life experience, we can become so accustomed to the busy comings and goings of life around us that so much of what makes life worthwhile can be missed. Truly connecting with others doesn’t have to be a formal process, but it does ask us to be present at least enough to notice what often is missed. Taking off our blinders can be truly magical and doesn’t require a trip to Ireland and I’ll be it, I was fortunate that travel was my permission to vacate, but it quickly became an opportunity to be reminded of how subtle our connections and kindnesses can be to each other and how too often if we’re not tuned in “taking off our blinders” we are missing those beautiful experiences with each other.