It is hard for me to turn off my planning brain, but when I’m travelling, I work harder than usual to do it. I’m in New York City this week for a conference, and while a part of me is already doing a Google Maps route of where I want to go before I’ve even gotten to the bottom of my coffee cup, I’m also more present than I’ve been for a long time.
I feel self-conscious in big cities because I feel like everyone else is laser-focused on getting where they are going and I feel like I am always looking up, reading signs, noting plaques, lingering. New York City is a miracle to me – our small city can barely sustain a few blocks of downtown shops and living, and nothing is walkable, really. Here, however, everything is miraculous, built up into the sky, NEARBY.
I could spend today working on my presentation for tomorrow, which is only half-done. I could spend today working on writing and reading and all the other things that tickle the back of my brain all day when I do something else, something for fun. But today I’m choosing New York, and I’m choosing to look up. The last time I was here was 10 years ago, when I was a stunned college student who didn’t know just how freeing being an adult would be. Now, I have to break out of the routine of adulthood to feel that again.
I’m hoping that some alone time to wander galleries, to taste delicious foods, to see the High Line, and to browse a bookstore will all put me in a mental space for all my favorite things. Yes, I do have to go back to a productivity stint tomorrow, but today’s to-do list looks a little different, and a little more like a map than usual: where can I walk and where can I look? What can I see if I don’t let all my priorities sneak up and overtake this happiness?