Every Day is Saturday

Finding Joy in the Here and Now

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

on May 6, 2014

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For some reason this week I became determined to rescue the pictures I had saved on my old iPod. I say “rescue” because I had tried in the past to figure out how to get them off of it, but was unsuccessful. These are pictures that are saved nowhere else; when I loaded them onto my iPod originally I suppose I moved them instead of copying them, and they’ve been there ever since. I don’t know why I became so determined to get to them, but I was, and eventually I did it. These pictures are extremely important to me – the one at the beginning of this blog post is the only picture I have of me on the Great Wall of China, so you can see why I’d want to make sure I had it somewhere I could get to it.

I have been privileged in my life to have traveled to some amazing places. As you can see I’ve been to China; my husband and I spent ten days sightseeing before I my work thing in Beijing started, and the experience of being on that wall is something I’ll never forget. I’ve been to Hong Kong and Macau as well, which are technically in China, but are so very different from the mainland. I’ve been to Singapore and to Mumbai, India. I’ve been to Australia, where I discovered a heretofore unknown talent as a rock wallaby spotter. There’s nothing like standing in the dark silence of the desert outback, 300 miles from the light pollution of any city, looking up at the incredible field of stars and finding the Southern Cross waiting there, just like in the song.

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Rock Wallaby – do you see him?

I’ve been to Europe and to Great Britain (England and Scotland anyway). London is possibly the best city in the world. I haven’t been to all of them of course so I can’t really know for sure, but I’ll bet it’s on up there. Berlin sizzles with energy. Rome is the Eternal City – ancient and new at the same time. Venice is the most romantic place on Earth. And Jerusalem is the center of the world; if you don’t believe me, go see for yourself.

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The Old City, Jerusalem

The United States is chock-a-block with the amazing and wonderful. I adore Chicago – it’s a big city that still thinks about itself as a small town, or that’s how it felt to me. New Orleans is a treasure – totally unique and intoxicating, it seduces me every time I go. We have it all in this country – mountains, beaches, swamp, prairie, desert. The Grand Canyon is everything they say it is. Mt. Rainier looms over Seattle like an ancient god. The sound of the loons across the lake in Maine will stay with me forever.

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The Grand Canyon

For a long time after I stopped traveling I didn’t allow myself to think about my trips, for fear it would make me sad. I don’t feel that way anymore. In fact, for the past week or so I’ve been consciously conjuring up not just images, but sense memories – sound, smell, touch, taste – from the places I’ve been. I can feel the cobblestone streets of Rome under my feet. I can smell that very distinct odor that is nowhere but Mumbai – spice and sweat and poverty and new money. I can hear the afternoon call to prayer in Jerusalem. I can taste the freshest fish I’ve ever had in Hong Kong. Instead of making me think about what I’m missing, these sense memories are giving me the gift of not just remembering my trips, but reliving them.

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The Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai

We get told a lot that we shouldn’t look back, that we shouldn’t live in the past. I think that that’s generally true – if we look back too much we can’t see where we’re going and we tend to stop moving forward. But we shouldn’t be afraid to think back on the things in our lives that brought us pleasure, or made us happy. I am grateful for the wonderful experiences I’ve had, and thinking about them has added to my sense of gratitude. And, for the first time in a long time, I’m conjuring up these sense memories as a way of visualizing myself again in these places. I can see myself, not my past self, but my present self, on the escalator in the Piccadilly Circus tube station in London, headed down to the train platform. I can see myself standing in front of the Coliseum in Rome. I can see myself in a vaporetto on the Grand Canal in Venice, on my way to Murano to see the glass blowers. I can see myself in the crowd at Uluru in Australia, waiting for the setting sun to change the color of stone and sky from bright orange and blue to violet, gold, and purple.

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Uluru at sunset

I want to go back to these places and to visit so many I haven’t seen yet. I’ve never seen the emerald green of Ireland or the whitewashed houses in Greece. I’ve never seen the Pyramids of Giza or the Sphinx. But I will see them one day. I know I will. And then I’ll have those new memories of sights and sounds and smells to take me back whenever I want to go.

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Thanks for reading my blog!  If you want to know more about me and my journey, check out my book “Everyday is Saturday” on Kindle.  The book is part diary, part memoir, about the first year after I was laid off from my dream job.  I think it has something to say to anyone who is struggling with change.

All photos by Amanda Taylor Brooks (c) 2014 .

 

 

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One response to “Looking Back, Looking Ahead

  1. anne wilmott says:

    Thanks for this post. I love to travel. Conquered the PCH in California last summer. Couldn’t get over how different that coast is from my native east. I too love Maine. My family’s gone to southern Maine coast several summers and always good memories and great lobstah!

    Like

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