Thunderstorm in Dallas not too long ago has left the Colorado Springs Airport slightly more crowded than it was hours earlier because of the numerous flights that got delayed (including ours). We surrendered the car we had rented earlier this noon so as not to incur extra day charges and have been camping out in the airport ever since. A far cry from the International Airport we have back at home that I now miss dearly, this one’s smaller – you can walk from one end of the Departure Hall to the other within a minute. Perhaps ten at most, if you crawled by your steps at snail’s pace. Armed with my handy-dandy (version super-old) MacBook and time for reflection, I sit facing the glass panels that stretch from the floor to the ceiling revealing the stellar night view of the runway.
This one is about “head fakes”. In my recent read while in Colorado titled The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, he described how “head fake” (a term used by athletes), to him could refer to indirect learning from an experience, akin to an actual head fake. He used “head fake” as a term that refers to a situation where you think you’re learning about something, but actually turn out to be learning something different. For example, when you learn sports, it is a “head fake” because what you’re truly learning is not the sport in itself – not the kicking, throwing and dribbling. It is the sportsmanship, the stamina in face of rigour and the perseverance in picking oneself up from failure. The latter are the lessons that will shape the people we become from having learned sports, arguably more valuable in the long run.
Midway through my luxury of a month-long traveling retreat (which my friend Desmond kindly summarizes as “traveling around the world in one month”), I think I might conclude that this holiday is a “head fake” in itself. The assets on this trip are not quite the airplane rides, not the experience in snow or the sledding and snowshoeing. The exhilaration from being in a new environment to witness alternative lifestyles (especially the pace of living), cultures and weather is real but it wouldn’t be enduring through time. Instead, the true gain comes from my learning to slow down and the time away from familiarity.  Away from the hustle and bustle of Singapore, I can fully, deeply experience the quality time with my siblings and appreciate their perks to the very smallest ones – I am increasingly reminded of how blessed I am to have siblings I would choose to be friends with any day.  The unfamiliarity here has me opening my eyes a little wider, looking a little harder and paying attention to the every detail in the people I meet and places I go. And as my favourite literature teacher once taught us: you learn the most when you are observant of the stories of strangers around you everyday.  There is also an enhanced sense of mindfulness because I hope to think deeply about how I feel whenever I can, with my limited time detached from the obligations of being a “post-A level graduate”. The time for reflection and relaxation is truly rewarding.
Those are the “head fakes” of my month-long retreat, of which I’m only halfway through and looking forward to more. Here’s to being mindful for the actual treasures of the moments we experience. Embrace the “head fakes”.