Sunday, September 02, 2007

That Left Behind

Travel was, at one time, quite routine. I tried to go about my packing and preparation with the casual ease that was once the hallmark of my every-other-month trips to Tokyo. However, it’s been a while and I definitely displayed a bit of my frantic side as I tried to gather up what I might need for the five day business trip. Five days is enough to require checked luggage in my book so the simple solution in terms of clothes and such is simply to over-pack in the large suitcase. As for my carry-on, I definitely didn’t have it all together. I remember the simple habit I had of moving certain things in and others out of my laptop case that I knew I would want during the 11 hour flight. This time I moved things in and out of my case, but it was often the same items as I tried to figure if I would need this or that. One item, a nice soft eye-mask, seemed to have me perplexed. I had purchased it sometime ago, but often forgot to bring it on my trips. It’s a little bulky and so it is easy to convince oneself to keep it out in favor of other items. I went back and forth on this one for some reason. Not really having a reason, actually. In the end, I left it out even though there was plenty of room. I’m not sure what the point was, it was purchased for a reason and that was to use on long flights where I might want to sleep. But there we had it. It was out.

Of course, it should come as no surprise to those versed in the school of irony that it was the one item that I wanted once I was up in the air and ready for a nap. This is a long story telling really very much of nothing. I could probably spend too much idle time wondering why I ultimately decided not to put keep it in my carry on. However, the more interesting question is why I happened to remember it in the first place before struggling over whether or not to include it. I’ve left it so many times in the past, why remember it this time? Something about no longer having a routine seems to have triggered something within me to signal that it might be important. My sub-conscious mind was trying to give me some important information. Yes, I usually forgot this bit of travel gear in the past, but inevitably I always desired it once I was on the plane. Some time in the past I had tucked away a bit of information to remind myself to bring this on my trips even though I always forgot it due to habit. Now, devoid of habit, the reminder left behind in my sub-conscious was doing its job and I…I basically ignored it.

The point of all this, as with all such reflections, is to ask myself “what is learned?” The obvious lesson is simply to try and listen better to the messages that my sub-conscious may be trying to tell me. I like to think of the sub-conscious as a sort of mental warehouse, a storage place where unfinished thoughts and random ideas take their place along side standing orders and reminders to, hopefully, be recalled at a time in the future when some trigger, intentional or otherwise, brings them to the surface. There is probably as much to think about the process by which mental contents are placed into and stored in the sub-conscious mind as there is about how one might better proceed with pulling things out when they are needed. However, one thing is certain, no matter how much influence you are able to obtain over the process, it is all for not if you fail to take heed when an important tidbit comes bubbling up from your sub-conscious. In the end, the point is not so much that I should have brought the eye-mask or even that I should have recalled the past times I had wanted it. The really important lesson is that I should have noticed the hint, the half formed thought, that feeling of questioning coming from the back of my mind. Even if I could not recognize it for what it was, a long forgotten reminder, I should not have simply ignored it.

The mental exercise that I must now give myself is to always stop or at least pause to ask what it might be that my sub-conscious mind is trying to tell me when such inclinations arise. Recognizing that this task itself is a sub-conscious reminder as well, I will simply leave it at that; hoping that having thought it and now writ it will be the start of a process that does not simply leave behind thoughts and ideas to gather dust in the depth of my mind. Perhaps this is another interpretation of what it means to always “be mindful.”

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