You should write a blog post called All Roads lead to Rome, my husband suggested. We had been cleaning and packing all morning in preparation to head to Rome, where my husband would be presenting at a conference.
Should I call it that? I mused. Or should I try a play on the phrase?
Well, I guess we aren’t there yet.
What about one of these? All roads lead to here. All roads lead somewhere. All roads lead to [fill in the blank].
How about, All roads lead to now?
So many of the places I have lived have something unique about them, a quality that seems to draw people to them. Alaska, and especially the small town of Gustavus where I spent two summers, two falls, one spring, and a particularly dark winter, seems to draw people looking for an escape [from the lower 48, from a previous identity, partner, job, reality] and a chance to start over. Lowell, Massachusetts draws people from around the world—some of whom have experienced the trauma of genocide and been granted asylum by the United States government—and others who are misfits and artists, wishing to join other such misfits in the creation of a community of love and support for each other’s quirky ways and individual artistic expression.
Brussels, Belgium? Well, I would say Brussels draws people who wish to live within a culture where dialogue and debate are not only encouraged but also embraced. It is an international city with a culture that feels wide open, a place where anything is possible.
I am not an anthropologist, of course, and these insights were derived from looking at the world through my own unique lens during my many years of living in different corners of the globe.
It is easy to spend time in the past and even easier to anticipate the future, especially when the present poses challenges that make it difficult to practice being present. For much for 2017, I have meditated and imagined myself in a future time when the challenges creating such high levels of stress will be resolved.
When I go for walks around our quaint neighborhood in Boitsfort, I try to be present and take note of little sights and sounds that resonate with my heart. When I am at home, I watch my cats and meditate on their easeful zen way of being, imagining that someday I may attain such calm. In the sometimes chaotic swirl of the universe around me, I can sit quietly, an eye in stormy, dynamic world.
With Rome hovering ever closer on the approaching horizon, I am looking forward to being very present for the next several days in Italy.
A yogi I admire described a gift that was given to him by a dear friend. It was a wristwatch without numbers. The only design on the watch face was the word “Now.”
What time is it? He would ask me and the other students over the course of the workshop he was leading. Now, we would all respond, laughing.
Now, I sit at the airport, a place where people live in a strange space that exists somewhere between. An airport is an especially challenging place to practice being present, so this is just what I will do while I linger in limbo before our flight to Rome.
Of course, in concert with the universal swirl of motion, I had only just settled in to being present and mindful by writing about being present and mindful when my husband informed me that it was time to board.
All ready? It seems so early.
We headed to our gate and were herded into two separate areas: priority cows and other cows. As I type, we are all waiting in what seems like the longest boarding experience of my life. The woman behind me has nearly run me over several times already and had her hand with ticket and passport resting on the counter as I handed my own ticket to the flight attendant. So, I not only have a chance to practice being present. I can also practice acceptance and patience with other people and keep breathing when other cows invade my personal space.
Where do all roads lead?
All roads lead to now.