ACCESS: AJC's new generation

...engaging today’s critical domestic and international issues. Working at the nexus between the Jewish community and the world, ACCESS reaches out to diplomats, policy makers and young leaders of diverse religious and ethnic communities.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

In the Now (From Matthew)

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently, not that that is much different from normal. My mind is almost constantly running at several thousand RPMs. Back in the day they called it “not paying attention,” nowadays I believe they call it attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. I like to call it “multi-tasking.”

I guess the difference the last few months is I’ve been really focusing on my upcoming trip, which just happens to start tomorrow. Here’s a brief overview of the trip. I was selected to be one of 15 “young Jewish leaders” (their words) from around North America to go to Germany as part of an AJC (American Jewish Committee) trip focusing on interreligious dialog, and in particular, the Oberammergau Passion play. (Press release) Now I’ll be posting plenty more on this as the trip wears on, providing WiFi access is as readily available as it seems from my reading, but here’s the rest of the itinerary.

After 10 days of the program I’ll head to Freising where I’ll work a few days at my company’s Germany office. After that, I’m off to play! First I’ll be heading to Prague, then Vienna, Bratislava and finally Budapest where I’ll eventually catch my plane home. Sounds like there’s a joke in there somewhere… “A Jewish Texan walks into a bar in Bratislava…” And before anyone freaks out about me posting I’ll be away from my house, as the good folks at have pointed out, I want to ease your mind. First off, I’ve got an alarm. Second, two separate neighbors don’t work and are home all the time, and know I’m out of town and are thus keeping an eye on things. Finally, honestly folks, I was thinking about it and I have nothing anyone would want to steal. An 11 year old big screen? Take it. A dining room table? Have at it if you can figure out how to get it out of the house without taking it apart. My extensive beer collection? Just make sure you close the fridge when you’re done. I was actually kind of sad when I really thought about it. My house would be the worst place for someone to rob! No jewelry, no cash, I’ll have my passport with me, no good financial stuff as every one of my accounts is password protected with a password that’s never been written down; I guess a single guy just doesn’t have that much good stuff to steal. This really did kind of bother me. Oh well, I’m over it.

So, back the point (Yes, there will be one). With all my focus on the upcoming trip I realized something yesterday. I’ve been looking ahead so much I’m afraid I’ll forget to just be in the now when the trip gets here. Seriously, how much do we do that in this day and age? So I’m making a promise to myself to NOT look past a single day of the trip. There’s been lots of planning and there is a ton of excitement right now, but with a 3 ½ week trip looming I can’t constantly be looking ahead. I think I’ve simply gotten caught up in the hustle and bustle of running the rat race. My goodness it’s already May, MAY! Where the heck did 2010 go already? Wasn’t it just yesterday we were in 2005 and feeling like the date didn’t meet our expectations? I mean really, I still want my flying car. But that’s just it, we’re constantly looking to the next great thing. Yeah sure, “stop and smell the roses” is a clichéd saying, but there really is something to it. I think part of what caused this to hit me was reading my buddy Jared’s blog about his travels,, and coming to the part about being in a small bar. I won’t retell the story, it’s there if you want to read it. Search for the part about “Mikos” if you want to cut right to the chase. Anyway, in my mindset from 3 days ago I never would have had that type of encounter because my head simply wasn’t in it. I’m challenging myself to stay in the moment during this trip, and then, to try to do the same when I get back.

Each day brings something new, but usually we’re simply too busy to see it. I’m committing to pull back the blinders and hope you can too. Don’t let it take a major trip, or a major life event to trigger your awareness. Search for the “now” now, not later.

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