Sometimes if I’m in need of some extreme sensory engagement I find a high school track and run as hard as I can. So hard that my lungs feel imperiled. So hard that if I were to trip, I would break something or knock out a tooth. So hard my thighs itch with all that fresh blood circulating. So hard I scare myself.
Another thing I do: marathon Karaoke. Singing beyond hoarse to a place where no sounds comes out at all. Or: going to a strange restaurant and asking the server to bring me her favorite dish.
All this I can do in my city, but for a true coming to my senses I need to get on a plane. I need to pack a suitcase. Packing is a form of leaving everything in your life behind. A form of de-prioritizing the stuff in your home nest. Like a migratory bird, you’re committing to finding a new nest, creating it with whatever you find. You’re committing to submitting to the world.
The flight is literal and figurative (a few years ago it was decided that these two words mean the same thing; they don’t). You’re flying away from the familiar sights, smells, sounds, and tastes. In the new place, you have no choice but to come to your senses.
Every morning when your eyes click open the light is different, the bird calls unfamiliar, the sounds of people starting their day — possibly calling to one another in a foreign tongue – all different, all new. Reinvigorating. Even when it doesn’t turn out as you’d hoped, it’s always an adventure. One day, Jerrod and I spent the entire day tramping around Paris in search of the proper adapter – adaptateur – for my laptop. The Great Adaptateur Acquisition Mission occurred on a day of record-breaking heat. My cute little ballet flats caused my heel to blister and my feet to sweat. I assaulted shopkeepers with my then-wretched French. We spent a small fortune on over-priced cups of café crèmes at unremarkable cafes. Still. It was the best day ever. In part because we were in it. We were there. It was life lived fully, even though it was ridiculous, and didn’t involve an awe-inspiring view or a trip to a museum to stand breathless before a masterpiece.
We were forced to pay attention.
Attention Without Feeling Is Only A Report
However, Mary Oliver (the world is already dimmer without her) reminds us “Attention without feeling is only a report.”
It’s best to go to a place that stirs you up. That forces you to come not just to your senses, but also to your heart.
There is never not a good time to go.
Want to travel with the express purpose of coming to your senses and writing — with feeling? You can travel to Collioure, France on our next Come To Your Senses writing retreat!