I spend too much time documenting my travels rather than experiencing them.
While I may have an excuse – I need photos and notes to share my stories with you – I think I could improve.
I could live more fully in the moment. I could savour the experience to learn more deeply and remember more clearly.
In this poem by Sheenagh Pugh, we are advised that notes and images offer little upon our return.
At home, eventually, we may ask “where was that cafe when I met that person from… oh, where did I put my notes?
But if we slow down, focus on experiencing rather than documenting, we may be able to retrace such a moment in terms of what the person was wearing, the texture of their skin, the impression they made, some of their thoughts, the sound of their voice and the sounds around you, the smells, the light or lack of it, and how it all made you feel.
This is our second poem by Sheenagh Pugh. The last was “What if This Road“. Today, we have “The Opportune Moment”.
The Opportune Moment
If you were waiting for the opportune moment, that was it” –
Capt Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
When you go ashore in that town,
take neither a camera nor a notebook.
However many photographs you upload
of that street, the smell of almond paste
will be missing; the harbour will not sound
of wind slapping on chains. You will read
notes like “Sami church”, later, and know
you saw nothing, never put it where
you could find it again, were never
really there. When you go ashore
in the small port with the rusty trawlers,
there will be fur hawkers who all look
like Genghis Khan on a market stall,
crumbling pavements, roses frozen in bud,
an altar with wool hangings, vessels
like canal ware, a Madonna
with a Russian doll face. When you go
ashore, take nothing but the knowledge
that where you are, you never will be again