Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tuesday Musings

After a beautiful, relaxing, sunny weekend in SF, I was thinking about how we generally see things differently when we are tourists. I think that this is in part due to the fact that when we are traveling we are approaching whatever place we are in with a different mindset than the one with which we approach everyday life. The daily grind can dull us to the things in our own lives and worlds that other people might find breathtaking. For instance, I take almost daily walks in Golden Gate Park. The place is full of tourists coming to see the Japanese Tea Garden, the deYoung Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, the bison paddocks, the windmills, and the Botanical Gardens. As I walk I often think about all the things I have to do before the end of the day, or how tired I am, or how much longer it will be until I get home. Yesterday we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, and I was looking out and thinking about how many people come to San Francisco to see that architectual feat, something one probably doesn't think of when her morning commute includes that stretch of highway.

When I go to a new place, I am often relaxed, excited, and focused on seeing and absorbing all that is around me. But, when I'm in the place in which I live, even though it is a place that is a popular tourist destination, I sometimes go about my day with blinders on. In the day to day you focus on different things; getting to work, getting home, finishing a project, cooking dinner, buying groceries. It leaves you little time and mental space to contemplate the wonders of the scenery around you. When all those things are stripped away, which they often are on vacation, your mind perceives things differently, is more aware of the things that are beautiful. Perhaps that kind of heightened awareness I experience when on vacation is what other people call mindfulness.

This weekend I tried a few new restaurants, went to a new neighborhood, went on a gorgeous drive on a perfect day, and had some oysters at one of our favorites, Hog Island. I tried to go about the weekend like a tourist in my own city, mindfully. And, even though this is a city I hate on a lot because it isn't where I always want to be, when I stop to pay attention I see that there is something amazing about it. It is amazing that you can be eating in bustling downtown one minute and driving through the hills of Marin the next, looking out at the sailboats from the Golden Gate Bridge and dipping your toes in the Pacific on a lazy Sunday afternoon and then riding the Muni to the symphony or the theater. San Francisco may not always feel like home, and it may not be the place in which I am the happiest, but it is certainly a beautiful place, and if living here is a hardship I have to bear, well, I guess it really ain't that bad. 

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