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February 19, 2013 / A Mindful Traveler

What Is Your Goal?

Footprints in Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

On Sunday, I stumbled across a new Meetup group here in Seoul named “Literature and Life.”  Helping my students draw connections between the two is both what inspired me to become a high school English teacher and what drives my daily professional practice. I had to answer a number of questions to join the group, including “What is your goal?”  My somewhat bland (although entirely honest) answer was “Drawing the connection between literature and life.”

That is not, however, my general answer to this question.  In fact, I do not have one. I have certain aspirations with respect to both travel and meditation.  I think that I’d enjoy becoming a digital nomad (or at least taking a trip longer than any I’ve taken before).  Likewise,  I hope to develop my meditation practice sufficiently to be able to sit a three-month retreat.  I wouldn’t characterize either as a goal, however, since they aren’t the reasons I travel and meditate.  I engage in both activities for the simple reason that I enjoy them, with the added benefit that I find they’ve improved my life and the lives of those around me.

It wasn’t always this way.  My initial interest in travel (as opposed to just vacationing) developed from a specific goal: inspired by my college courses in medieval history, I wanted to visit all the countries in Latin Christendom (essentially Western and Central Europe).  My subsequent travel has taken me in different directions in every sense.  I first came to meditation not as a pursuit for its own sake, but rather as a way of dealing with the stress from my job as a lawyer at a large international firm.  My interest has developed and deepened through a number of chance events that I expect I’ll end up discussing in future posts.

I can’t say whether I achieved either goal.  I’ve visited every Western European country… except for Iceland and four microstates.  Likewise, although meditation has lowered my level of stress, my change in career has also played a role.  At this point, however, I doubt I’ll ever run out of places I’d like to travel to or cease to find meditation calming.  I suppose remaining able to appreciate such a lack of a goal is my goal itself.

What’s yours?


Leave a Comment
  1. tiramit / Feb 19 2013 10:24 am

    Most people don’t see that, yes, it’s like this; being ‘able to appreciate such a lack of a goal is (the) goal itself.’ There’s birth death and the bit in between, plenty to be going on with…

  2. Bruno / Feb 19 2013 11:08 am

    most of us forget about meditating in our daily lives, Id’ like to think my goal is to be happy so that I can make other people happy as well, spread peace and love,.inspire other’s to be free and happy, and if possible raise awareness on social, political and environmental issues everywhere I go

    • A Mindful Traveler / Feb 19 2013 11:19 am

      Thank you for your comment Bruno! I think you’re right that most people (myself included) could be more mindful in their daily lives. I think meditation is just one of many kinds of mindfulness practice. I think what you do by being a kind and open person is another. Keep up the great work and generous spirit 🙂

  3. Won Seok Chung / Feb 19 2013 12:53 pm

    For me my goal has been to be present every moment which I find to be very very difficult.

    • A Mindful Traveler / Feb 19 2013 1:02 pm

      Thank you for your comment Won! I try to do the same and find that incredibly difficult too. It’s probably what I struggle with most in my meditation practice, especially sitting.

  4. Kara Daly / Feb 20 2013 5:34 pm

    I have a goal that has been developing in me lately: to be completely non-judgmental and loving. I think my meditation practice has brought me to want this goal, and I think it will also help me achieve this goal if I put in the work. Thanks for sharing!

    • A Mindful Traveler / Feb 20 2013 9:57 pm

      Thank your for your comment Kara! That is a lovely goal and it sounds like your practice is truly for the benefit of all beings! I really like your blog,, especially your “Daily Inspiration posts. 🙂

      • Kara Daly / Feb 20 2013 11:23 pm


  5. museconfuse / Feb 21 2013 11:06 am

    To have more patience, to act with humility and always, always to be kind.

    • A Mindful Traveler / Feb 21 2013 11:09 am

      Thank you for your comment museconfuse! Those are lovely goals and I wish you every success with them 🙂

      • museconfuse / Feb 21 2013 11:11 am

        Thanks! I really have to keep reminding myself…especially regarding patience.

  6. ellatitman / Feb 21 2013 11:29 am

    Hi. Great post. Thank you.
    Not sure it is a goal as such. But I would like to go where my practice takes me 🙂

    Also wanted to say that I’ve not heard the term digital nomad before but I really connect with it. Very William Gibson. Reminds me of the Blue Ant trilogy.

    • A Mindful Traveler / Feb 21 2013 11:34 am

      Thank you for your kind words ellatitman! I’ve heard people say that they like to “follow their joy” and so following your practice sounds like a more elegant way of saying the same thing. I look forward to reading your blog as you add to it! 🙂

      • ellatitman / Feb 21 2013 11:42 am

        Only – as much as I love my practice – it does not always give me joy 😉

  7. Popadopolis / Feb 21 2013 2:41 pm

    Traveling is amazing (physically as well as mentally). Reading that you were in Souel brought back very good memories for me. I haven’t been back to Korea since 1985. I spent 3+ years there and for whatever reason or however – the language that I learned while there has still stuck all this time even though I hardly ever get to speak Korean. Thanks for your writing, I look forward to reading more in the future.

    • A Mindful Traveler / Feb 21 2013 8:04 pm

      Thank you for your kind words Popadopolis! It sounds like you did a much better job learning Korean than I have 🙂 It must have been very different living in Korea then, since people tell me that with the Olympics in 1988 and the coming of democracy shortly thereafter the country began to change incredibly.

      I look forward to read more of your blog: and really liked you most recent observation that we aren’t punished for our sins, but rather by them. That is by hurting others the one we truly hurt is ourself.

  8. lauramacky / Feb 24 2013 1:00 pm

    Interesting post. My goal which I also consider the reason I’m on this earth, is to improve my body (health), challenge my mind, and become more in line with and deepen my spiritual self.

    • A Mindful Traveler / Feb 24 2013 1:34 pm

      Thank you for your comment lauramacky. That is a wonderful goal!

      I was able to combine your comments together, but if I’ve done so incorrectly, please just let me know (or just repost) and I’ll fix it again 🙂

      • lauramacky / Feb 24 2013 1:42 pm

        You combined my comments where? I thought your post was wonderful and it reminded me of my goals. :). Isn’t it amazing that people can meet from all over the world and inspire each other?

      • A Mindful Traveler / Feb 24 2013 1:49 pm

        Thank you so much for your kind words! 🙂 I agree it’s amazing how people can inspire each other from all over the world and I’m deeply grateful my blog can play some role in that process.

        The wonderful comments this post has generated have made me realize that what matters to me most of all when I travel (and here) is engagement:

        Please let me know what you think!

        Oh, I combined your comments right above my reply (just scroll up to see them!) 😉

      • lauramacky / Feb 24 2013 1:59 pm

        Tess’s absolutely engagement. The times I’ve traveled to other countries, I’ve stayed as far away from American hotels as possible, usually renting an apartment. Not that I don’t enjoy my home country, but I want to feel and experience the people and how they live. I adore meeting people and find it enriches my life. I can’t wait to get healthy so I can travel again. :). So now I travel inside my spirit and mind.

      • A Mindful Traveler / Feb 24 2013 2:02 pm

        Thanks for your lovely comment. I agree 🙂 Good luck with your recovery. I look forward to following your blog:

        What do you mean by Tess’s at the start of your post?

  9. lauramacky / Feb 24 2013 2:30 pm

    Oops, I’m sorry. At the time of that post, i was using my iphone and i made a typo and didn’t see it. I meant “It’s absolutely engagement”. Ahh the perils of modern conveniences!

    • A Mindful Traveler / Feb 25 2013 12:56 am

      No problem. I’ll trade those small inconveniences for the engagement that it allows 🙂

  10. leazengage / Feb 25 2013 2:12 am

    Thanks again for asking for my comments on goals and traveling. When I was younger, I used to say that travel was important because it expanded and stretched one’s view of their lives. Now that I’m older (I’m a young 64 year old) and can look back, I realize that while that is true, for me, travel provided me even more. At least I think my travel experiences greatly contributed to my ability and willingness to engage in all of life, as you’ve mentioned. For reasons I’ve never completely understood, I have been provided with unique opportunities to learn things that aren’t normally available to someone with my background (white – middle class – college educated). One example is that I ended up volunteering with a group of African American incarcerated men who were housed at a local prison. I didn’t really look for this opportunity but it came to me… And for whatever reason I was ready and willing to learn (and teach) while I was there. I founded a non-profit to address some of the issues that I learned about while there. There are other examples of opportunities that showed up in my life. Now, not only am I filled with gratitude for the amazing experiences and learning opportunities I’ve had, I’m open for the next and the next. So, a goal for traveling? To experience life with an openness and a loving heart. The more we get to do that the more can do it. I mentioned in my previous comment to you that I’ve also been fortunate to have an opportunity to set up a export import company with some people from Russia. Each time I went to Russia, I stayed with my friends. I never went as a “business person” or a “tourist”. Again, travel teaches us to welcome life and let it happen! I’m not sure if I’ve explained this very well but I hope so. 🙂

    • A Mindful Traveler / Feb 25 2013 3:42 am

      Thank you for sharing Lea! (Your explanation was great by the way!) I particularly like the way you’ve described all these interactions, both in travel and at home, in the same openminded terms. I know a lot of people who have one attitude when they’re traveling and a very different one at home. It sounds like you proceed to everything as you say with an openness and a loving heart. I feel lucky to be in touch with you and I’m looking forward to hearing about more of your experiences. 🙂

      • leazengage / Feb 25 2013 3:57 am

        I’m happy to have crossed paths with you too! Isn’t all this grand? 🙂

  11. Lauramacky / Mar 10 2013 6:28 am

    I love being a “digital nomad”!


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