As we live most of our lives on auto pilot rushing here and there never really thinking about how this all happens. Its’ just life after all.
The alarm goes off and we begin. We shower never really taking the time to be present with the water caressing and cleaning our bodies or noticing the smell of the soap or looking at the bubblies in our hands. We are too busy thinking about the day, we are already at work in our minds.
Next are the children, spouse or other family members. We walk into their rooms and wake them up. Sometimes with gentle strokes but other times with a quick command. Breakfast is made and out the door we go.
In the car, buckled up then we’re in drive mode. We drop the children off and then what seems moments later we are at work never really knowing or thinking about how we got there.
Phone calls, emails, employee & client interactions, then the day is done. Kids, spouse, dinner, bed and then it begins all over again. With life on autopilot how then do we wander or wonder? How then do we “go off the beaten path”?
Doing the same activities, going to the same places, meeting the same people certainly has some familiarity to it and we know what to expect. But just what does that get us as far personal growth, understanding the world around us, or nurturing our soul?
I’ll tell you in two words — absolutely nothing.
Then the day comes when the kids are grown and gone and we are left wondering where our life went or hating the one we have. Some of us go into confusion, some depression, worry or anxiety. How do you stop this vicious cycle?
Making a habit of “going off the beaten path” will help you to transition into being an empty nester, the later years or in retirement. It takes being present to just notice how quickly you go on autopilot. But it is in the noticing where the magic begins to happen.
By practicing daily some kind of “going off the beaten path” you will be faced with all kinds of feelings. Fear of the unknown, fear of looking stupid or embarrassed if or when you get lost, excitement, anxiety ridden or any other of the other crazy thoughts we make up in our heads.
Yet by taking the other road, by putting the GPS away, by doing something or going somewhere different you will begin to see the world through a different lens. If you come from a place of wonder instead of doubt then the sound of the birds chirping or the smell of the flowers or the taste of a new cuisine will begin to fill your soul with the gratitude as you yearn for more.
“Going off the beaten path” does not mean leaving the country, although it is a lot easier than you think, or even leaving your city or town. “Going off the beaten path” came be as simple as discovering and experiencing something new in your neighborhood.
My husband and I travel often, sometimes for long distances and other times not. Recently we traveled by car four hours north east of Warsaw, where we are currently residing. We heard of a cheese festival in a small town and decided to make an overnight stay out of it. I booked a room on Airbnb in what looked like a lovely, quiet manor home in the country.
We often travel the side roads instead of any highways, just to get a lay of the land and see how others live. This trip was no different. The countryside was breathtaking, all a bloom with color and sound. This region of Poland is called the “lungs of Europe” and no use of pesticides is allowed. That is noticed by the large number of storks that live here. These big graceful creatures build a home for life, coming back to the same nest year after year with their spouse. They mate for life, or at least they travel with the same partner year after year.
As we arrived in the small town where we would spend the next few nights the directions told us to take a right hand turn down a dirt road. I am always apprehensive about dirt roads, especially when you can’t see the end. My husband and I looked at each other and forged ahead….slowly.
The pastures were filled with grazing cows, dogs barking, flowers everywhere and the smell of hay. We soon came upon a fenced in beautiful home and realized this was home for the next few nights. We breathed a sigh of relief and laughed.
We were welcomed by the dogs barking at the strangers that have just arrived and the owner of the property promptly greeted us. Much to our surprise we had stumbled upon a sustainable, organic, working farm called an AgroTurystyka. AgroTurystyka is a kind of rural tourism which Poland is littered with. During your stay, you may be asked to do some farm chores, or maybe just relax. The meals served will be homemade and generally from the offerings of the garden or the animals.
This farm offered cows, goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, grouse, ducks and dogs. The garden and fruit trees lined the property and most of which was in bloom. There was a quiet hum as all the animals seemed to know their part and everyone was in harmony. It is always a remarkable feeling for me.
The home and guest quarters were beautifully decorated and we could roam the property and make ourselves at home. And yes, the owner spoke English. However, he did mention that if I stayed with him for a week on the farm I would be fluent. I winked (as he was quite handsome) and thought maybe that would be the ticket to improving my Polish.
Later that day as the sun was about to set we joined the farm worker as he went to the fields to first gather the sheep to bring them into the barn for the evening. This was followed by the goats and then the cows. It was funny, these animals were waiting at the gate for him, like they knew their role. How could they tell time? They started making noise as soon as they saw him, almost like they were greeting him. How pleasant I thought.
The meals that were served were gifts of the farm. The table was littered with freshly cut flowers. The cow offered her milk and we had the most delicate and creamy butter ever experienced. It was bright yellow as the butter was made of full fat. Oh my, it was delicious. I could have slathered it all over my body.
The cheeses were offerings from the cows, sheep and goats. I never knew I liked goat cheese until this time. The eggs were given from the chickens and the rabbits offered their freshly made pate. The garden supplied us with an endless offering of cucumbers and tomatoes. It was a feast for the eyes as well as our stomachs.
I could have stayed forever. It made me laugh remembering my apprehension as we drove down the dirt road for the very first time. If I/we had not remained present in the experience we just might have turned around and cancelled our stay. I/we could have gotten all worked up about the listing when there was no mention of a dirt road (why should that matter anyway)? I/we could have been ridden with anxiety as we traversed down this windy, bumpy road.
If you find any of this resonating with you about fears, anxiety or self-doubt, I encourage you to begin your journey “going off the beaten path”. You never know who you might meet or what you might experience.