Adequately Present

Figuring out who you are is supposed to get easier as you get older, isn’t it?

For a couple of days each November, my body, heart, and mind go into this quiet state of anxiety and fear. I’ve written about it for the last two years (2014’s “Six Squared” and 2015’s “37”) as a way to more publicly reflect upon and share what I’ve been processing internally. This year is no different.

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Words Matter

(Image: Keflavik Airport, Iceland. Its contrast to my post struck me.)

A few years ago, I wrote a couple of blog posts about the lack of interactive and thoughtful discourse (part one & part two). I’ve been thinking about this topic again recently as I’ve watched the ability to have rational conversation deteriorate in America with little visible hope that our behavior will change in the near future. We recoil any time we hear or read something that conflicts with our worldviews. Instead of pausing to absorb the message we took in and understand where that person or group is coming from, the new “proper” response is to lash out and tell them why they are wrong. How dare someone disagree with me!

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Fall in Reykjavik

Strong winds blow tonight

Whipping rain at me sideways

I try to shield myself from it

But it is a vain effort here in this place

From inside my room I still hear you

Making your presence known to all

The air and skies are not calm this evening

Yet I am comfortable, content

My heart still feels at home right now

Peaceful in the midst of this perceived gloominess

The Little Black Book of Travels

I enjoy traveling. It’s not just for the experiences and seeing new places and things, but for the mental space to think that it provides. Ever since my first international trip, I’ve kept a written journal of events and reflections from those adventures. It’s a great way to remember details about what you saw and did, but also a good time to document what’s happening in your life.

Whenever I get away from home, I start seeing things more clearly. So it’s been important for me to find some time daily to sit down and write about anything. Each trip, I usually start with a new journal and this time is no different. This year, I have my “little black book” for my more personal reflections and thoughts that rarely get shared. I recently went back to read through my 2011 sabbatical journal and was instantly transported back to so many fond memories and places I visited. I even was reminded of scents and weather where I had sat in parks or cafes to write.

Even if you don’t consider yourself an avid writer, I’d recommend everyone have their own traveling little black book to document your adventures, no matter how sparse or dense the details may be for you. These written journals turn out to be great keepsakes and a better way to go back and remember compared to your social media posts or public blog posts.

#EuroGreg2016

I guess I can’t go a full calendar year to pass without traveling somewhere that doesn’t touch Illinois’s borders. (Sorry Missouri, you’re cool but since we’re neighbors that trip doesn’t count as getting away.)

Today, I head out for almost two weeks of travel through Europe with scheduled stays in the following places:

  • Pinneberg, Germany (not far from Hamburg)
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Reykjavik, Iceland

I’m looking forward to seeing friends in Germany and exploring their hometown, along with seeing Amsterdam for the 1st time. Iceland will be a short stay, but much like seeing Sigur Ros again in concert, I suspect my short time there will feel like a mini-homecoming. The connection in that country was deep and was already there before I ever stepped foot on their land.

Since I will be traveling solo, similar to my sabbatical five years ago, expect to see some updates here on the WUGO blog with reflections either related to my travels or just to life. There are many revelations about life back home once I fly a few thousand miles away from it.

Whenever I post about the trip, I am going to be using the hashtag #EuroGreg2016. It will be an easy way to filter through posts on most social media platforms for what I’m sharing relating to my travels or if it’s something different altogether. Photos will be posted sparingly during the trip with more shared later. If you want to follow along, you can do so in the following place:

  • Visit this blog regularly (or subscribe via email for notifications)
  • Facebook
  • Instagram – @gregmacek
  • Twitter – @gmacek
  • Snapchat (yes, I use it) – add me @doclloyd16

Thanks to T-Mobile’s free international data & text roaming, I’ll be able to share relatively easily wherever I’m at.

I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks away “on holiday.” Life is always interesting and rarely sits still, but like the last few years, it has provided unique challenges in some areas. Where appropriate, I will be sharing some things here. Stay tuned for more!

Gaining, Losing, & Regaining Trust

In relationships, politics, even our interactions with businesses, there is a level of tacit understanding to trust that the other party will do what they say will do or be who they say they are. We expect parents or a significant other to unconditionally love and not intentionally hurt us; we vote someone into office to serve the country and needs of the people who voted them in; we buy from companies who create products and services we assume to be reliable and consistent.

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Empty Fullness

In the pursuit of many endeavors and goals, it is easy to be caught up in the act of chasing what excites you. Adrenaline rushes in, and you tell yourself you can take on a new book right now and knock out a blog post this week and start a new friendship and kick off that initiative at work you’ve been dying to find significant chunks of time for.  But then you look at that list and realize that 1) many of your goals are not related to each other, 2) you are just one person and unable to do it all – at least do it all well, and 3) you’ve lost some of the energy and joy in the pursuit.

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