Coffee and Travel

Oh the things we take for granted at home…like the low cost of a cup of coffee! We all know that airports jack up the prices for food and conveniences but the equivalent of $7 CDN for a coffee??? Please…however, I paid it so I guess I’ve just fuelled the economy in Switzerland and gave into a habit that seriously needs to be curbed before I get to India!

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In London I had one of the best coffees I’ve ever tasted at a little French bistro called “Cafe Rouge”. A great Americano with real cream (not the low-fat version I buy at home) accompanied by mini samplers of tarte tatin, a tiny chocolate lava cake, and a lemon torte. I happily dropped 15 GBP for that brief moment of pleasure…and then the moment was gone.

This was after walking through the luxury departments in Harrod’s – room after room of decadent goods with big price tags. As I gazed through the glass at a piece of jewelry with a cost of over 15,000 GBP, I wondered who would pay that much, how they would justify the cost, and in wearing it would it make them feel more important?

So I just finished off my $7 cup of coffee, every last drop…and I’m feeling jittery. Okay that’s it…no more. Time to let go of the habit and contemplate the value of much more important things.

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Reunion

After nearly 20 years of distance, I reunited with a dear friend halfway across the world. What better place to re-connect than in London, England! Not only have we reminisced about good old times, but we are now sharing new experiences together which have deepened our friendship.

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I love the poem about “friends for a reason, friends for a season” and it speaks to the ever-changing nature of our relationships. Some people come into our lives for only a brief moment while others remain part of our lives for years. I think that the momentary acquaintances can be just as important as the long-time friends, for they were meant to come into your life at just that time perhaps to lend a hand, teach you something, or make your day. It sure makes you think about the ripple effect and how one smile or act of kindness can impact someone else’s life. Is it possible to treat all people we meet as friends? In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali said it well – “cultivate friendliness towards the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and equanimity in the face of adversity”. You don’t have to go all the way to London…simply take care of the people in your own backyard.

But I have to say…being in London with a good friend is pretty sweet…

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Navigation

Oh the seas of life can be turbulent at times…Just when you think it’s smooth sailing, along comes a rogue wave that tosses you overboard. How to stay afloat – that is the question. Sinking to the bottom is not even an option in my book, but treading water is hard and exhausting and depleting. Thrashing around (in body, mind, and emotions) uses up so much energy, but you keep doing it thinking it’s the way to keep your head above water, when really it just makes the struggle more difficult. So perhaps the answer is to simply lean back, turn your face to the sky and take a breath…and allow yourself to bob and weave with the waves. Go with the proverbial flow…

I attended a conference years ago where Rick Hansen was the key-note speaker. As he spoke from his wheelchair on the stage, he recounted his experience of traversing the Great Wall of China. He talked about meeting obstacles…this surely was a man who had many hurdles to overcome. I’ll never forget his advice – he said your choices upon meeting an obstacle are to turn around and run away; to try to climb over/under/around it; or to just plain barrel right through it. Sometimes you need to go right into the heart of what is in your way, deal with it, and (sometimes painfully and at a snail’s pace) find the strength to move forward in the midst of it all. Wise words from someone who, like many others, had the wind knocked from his sails too soon, yet continued to navigate through the currents of his life with vision and purpose.

So after being knocked off the boat, thrashing a bit (well…more like freaking out…) then hearing the voice say “calm down”, you can float for awhile; let things be. One might then regain the energy to get back on the ship. As the captain of your own vessel, your task is to guide it around or through the obstacles with care, mindfulness, and compassion, but you can’t do that unless you are willing to jump right back into the driver’s seat, with a calm mind and open heart. What helps me get back on the boat is sitting quietly in meditation, letting my mind do all of its crazy stuff until the waves settle down, and the storm subsides, Then I can take a breath, grab the wheel and sail to shore. With my feet on solid ground, I can move forward with a little more resolve, a little more strength, and a better perspective.

Read this however you like…metaphors and analogies and maybe good advice…

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