I spent my time trailing behind my Uncle as he walked everywhere with a giant folding map. I used to hide guidebooks on my lap if they were left on the table (lest a waiter should see and discover that the non-Italian speaking, mixed race girl was in fact not a local!), and my stupid teenage brain must have missed countless amazing moments worrying about how much I looking like a tourist.
Now that I live here on Corfu (where in high season the national sport among locals is to moan about the tourists) I have come to a new realisation.
Tourists actually understand a place far better then locals!
Locals are busy.
Locals have jobs to maintain, families to look after, routines to uphold and houses to clean.
Locals have an infinite time to postpone doing fun, beautiful, amazing things because after all... they live here.
Tourists on the other hand have a countdown clock ticking down from the second they step off the plane. They have only a short, finite time limit with which to absorb all the beauty of the island, all the magic of swimming in the sparkling,blue sea, all the fragrant flowers growing in the streets, all the charm of the Greek locals, and each bite of fresh, tasty food.
Tourists essentially live in the present moment, and the most clever ones are constantly filtering through all of their options to find the most pleasurable, most gratitude inspiring experiences available to them every moment.
Isn't this what we should all be doing, all of the time?! Regardless of where we are and what we have to do, don't we always have the choice of what we can focus on?
How powerful would it be if we all consistently focused on our most enjoyable options? How much more would we have to give if each day we felt a bit more relaxed, a bit more satisfied, a bit more happy?
The brain is hard wired to repeat patterns, and since our senses are bombarded with a million pieces of information every single second, it is very natural that we edit the world around us.
And in this edit we forget to appreciate the amazing view out of our window because it is there everyday. We prioritise doing the washing up or the paperwork over getting out there and having a walk, or seeing a friend, because that's what grown ups do isn't it?! We do what needs to be done. Isn't it funny how doing your emails is always on the list, but taking the time to find something beautiful and to enjoy it is never on the list... Speaking for myself- enjoyment is something I tend to remember when my to-do list is done. This was the same in England and if I am not mindful it is the same right here, even in beautiful Corfu.
When I am driving down the road and I have to slow right down because a tourist is happily wandering along at a snail pace, staring at the ocean and looking all wide eyed and floaty in brightly colored summer clothes. Sometimes I sigh and fantasise about honking my horn and saying "Hey Lady look where you are going!"... But sometimes I manage to slow down, to smile, to look around me as though it was the first time I'd ever seen Arillas and to remember how lucky I am to be here.
I remember how amazing the present moment so often is when I don't take it for granted.
So my secret mission since we've moved here is to stay a tourist. To keep noticing the beauty, to keep creating the space for fun, play, pleasure and relaxation. My mission is to keep discovering new things I love about being here, new places, new people, and finding the magic hidden in the everyday places and things that I have the great fortune of seeing day in, day out.
Ben and I are having an amazing Summer. We have been very busy but we are soo un-believably happy to own this amazing Villa (still can't believe it is really ours!), we feel so happy to share yoga and meditation with the amazing people who have crossed our paths and soo deeply, humbly grateful that we are here.
I raise my imaginary Pina Colada to those of you reading this. Here's to being a tourist and finding something that makes you go 'WOW!'... or at least something that makes you smile. Right here. Right Now. Wherever you are.
Big Love from Mandala Yoga B&B Corfu