Do This When You Visit a New Place
Pandemic life has taught many of us to appreciate moments in life that might otherwise pass us by. I’ve been trying to pause and take note of how I feel at the end of the day, often as I walk in the park or one of my nearby neighborhoods.
With that in mind, here’s a tip inspired by The Art of Stopping Time, a book by Pedram Shojai: whenever you visit a place that’s new to you, consider the sense that you might never be there again.
Just imagine: this might be it! Your one and only opportunity in a lifetime to visit this particular place. How might this realization make you feel?
What, you say you aren’t traveling much now? That’s okay.
This “new place” could be anywhere: a part of the woods you’ve never seen on your next nature hike, for example, or even a street in your neighborhood you’ve never driven down before. The point is to create awareness and appreciation.
I wish I’d had this concept in mind many years ago when I was traveling to several new countries every month. Looking back now, I can remember dozens of highlights that might fit the category of “never returning.”
In Somaliland, I rode several hours in a crowded minibus, listening to people chatter away. We stopped for food (goat stew! I’m a vegetarian, but it was interesting to observe) and drank from a shared bottle of Coca-Cola. Those were the days…
In Bosnia, a totally different part of the world, I traveled overland (this time on a full-sized bus) from Sarajevo to Herceg Novi. The city itself was magical. It felt like one of those “Land Before Time” moments.
As interesting as those experiences were, I don’t know if I’ll ever repeat them. In fact, almost certainly I won’t. Even when I return to traveling more often, Montenegro and Somaliland aren’t that easy to jet off to.
Not only that, even though I can remember dozens of highlights from my adventures, I’m sure there are hundreds—thousands even—that I’ve forgotten or simply don’t come to mind when I think about this concept.
That’s why it’s good to consider the concept while you’re in a new place. It might help you remember it later, but even if not, you’ll have the moment of appreciation while you’re there.
Oh, and I like thinking about this idea for travel, but technically I suppose you could apply it to anything, even not something related to being in a particular place.
Whatever you’re doing or experiencing today, you might never do or experience it again. Let it sink in and consider how it feels.