In less than twelve hours we leave for London and Edinburgh. I’ve packed everything I need, and there is little left to do other than go to bed, get up and head for the airport. Naturally I’m feeling good about the trip – one city we love and one we’ve heard nothing but good things about. But the night before a trip is a time I’ve always found difficult.
My horoscope says that as a Taurus, I’m a creature of routine. Although each day brings new experiences, I find the habit of waking up in the same bed calming. Once I get going on a trip, I love that too. Travel is its own kind of routine, simply one of sightseeing or kicking back or whatever the case may be. But it’s always the between time that is nerve-racking.
I think it revolves around the issue of waiting. Any time you’re anticipating something, by definition you are focused on a moment that is yet to arrive. You’re not in the present. Tonight here at home Valarie and I are having a good time, packing and listening to music, or watching basketball and playing with the cat. But it’s hard to consider this night in its own right, because it is defined by what happens tomorrow.
Buddhism 101 tells us to live in the moment. (Come to think of it, so do sports clichés. It’s NCAA tournament time; I’ve heard a lot of them lately.) So what does that mean? In basketball terms, you could talk about a successful team dictating the tempo. Or you could look to the best individual players, who know when to take the shot and when it’s better to pass. (Salim Stoudamire did a superb job of that last night for Arizona against Oklahoma State in the Sweet 16.)
Maybe at a time like this I’ve got to dictate the mood by working extra hard to keep in mind that the trip we start tomorrow is going to be great, and that I shouldn’t feel anxious. Or I could just try to relax and let things unfold as we make the long journey from our house to the airport, in the air from Portland to Dallas, through the Kafka-esque customs back on the ground, then in the air from Dallas to London, on a train from Gatwick airport to Victoria station, and finally a cab to our hotel.
For the last six and a half months since we returned from our Europe trip last fall, that time has remained on our minds almost constantly. We look at video and still photos I shot. We read books and movies that are set there. We eat crepes or curry that taste like something we had. And we reminisce about the time we spent with friends Neil & Bridget and their kids. We’re so excited to go back! But the first challenge of a trip is one of the biggest ones, to just do nothing until it’s time to walk out the door.