My wife and I just returned from a 30 day adult gap month traveling throughout Portugal, Spain and France. We were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary via a gastronomic lens that took us from big cities to beaches to bodegas to chateaus to medieval towns on planes, trains, automobiles and bicycles. We channeled our inner Anthony Bourdian and wanted to make it as much about food and wine as culture. Each destination was unique, yet tied together through human interaction.
The time away from the Silicon Valley bubble is good for the soul as well as the soles, as we walked everywhere. Taking in the street art, realizing that the iPhone in your hand was really only invented 11 years ago and the Facebook and Instagram that you post on has a similar or even less shelf life of existence. Only when you step away do you see more clearly. Your observations take on a new lens. Your foreign surroundings speak to you in a different tone. You realize the selfie stick has changed the world dramatically.
Our goal for the trip was to remain present. Let go of the screens. Let go of the noise. Embrace the journey and absorb the full 24 hours of each day to its fullest. That said, we also wanted to capture and reflect on our lives together for the last 30 years. So, we created a blog on Fabl (a visual storytelling platform) to tell our story along the way. We juxtaposed each day against that respective year of marriage. It was a wonderful way to enliven our meals, walk time and ride time – as we discussed what happened in that particular year. We compartmentalized our day into learning, reflecting, exploring, enjoying, savoring and then uploading and outputting.
When you go through that exercise, you begin to realize you are not writing about your work. Your career arc. You work accomplishments. You write about the memories from your travel. From your funny, stupid or serious moments with friends and family. The emotional tidbits that made up that moment, the exhilaration or fear or sorrow that you felt as a result. You begin to take stock of what really matters in your life journey. All of the cliches that speak to that reality surface, no longer as cliche’s, but truths. You also reconcile that your Kodak moments (film cameras) began to change into iPhone moments and that you actually could identify your memories from 2007 on with a bit more accuracy. The fuzzy memories became “defined for you” memories in your hand.
As we re-enter back in our daily lives in a new city and have conversations with our friends about our trip and what we learned, felt and loved about each destination – we see a common thread. It was the human touch points and the visual appreciation for the architecture and nature that stood out most. We really appreciated the humanness of our hosts at our inns. The conversations that were shared. The exchanges with the wine makers, the cellar masters, the chefs, the people from around the world that we shared a bike ride with or a tour guide with or a paella making experience with.
The one thing we could not escape was Trump, Brexit, Tariffs, Nationalism and Putin. When limited to CNN, BBC and Bloomberg english speaking channels, we were flooded with a torrent of “looped news” that continues to showcase friction, tension and uncertainty. Makes you painfully realize the influence to perpetuate on a subject and how relentless it is in today’s media landscape. Nauseating. Filling airtime with hopelessness and fear vs. adding value.
We experienced two significant live moment events that really brought global/local into context. While in Madrid, we witnessed International Women’s Day gatherings and a march that saw over 1 million people parade along Grand Villa for over four hours. A moving sea of women, men, teen and young girls, teen and young boys, entire families, generations walking side by side chanting and singing. A peaceful, yet very significant event that speaks to the global nature of this movement.
We were also in France when the Supermarket shooting took place in Carcassonne and Trèbes on March 23. Both small towns that mimicked the randomness of the shootings we have experience here in the US. As we drove by on the freeway and passed those exits, we felt the sadness and wondered about how different ideologies and lack of hope manifests into this kind of senseless outcome.
Time away to reflect, to recover, to see things differently is a valuable lesson to embrace. We live in an always on, interdependent world. This reminds me of one of those events we experienced as part of our 30 year reflection – a speech by Former President Clinton for my daughters graduation from LMU in 2016 on Living in a World of Interdependence. No matter how our government leaders see the world, we humans are now interdependent and rely on each other. This is the narrative that I now embrace after living on the road for last 30 days.
What is your worldview narrative?
Tobin Trevarthen is the Founder/Chief Narrative Officer of Spatial Shift – a narrative design thinking firm whose focus is to help companies, foundations and individuals to realize their true North Star narrative. Tobin is the co-author of Narrative Generation, a groundbreaking book on the significance of Narrative and why you need one.
Tobin brings 30+ years of operational digital media, design thinking and innovation strategy experience to his craft. His personal North Star narrative is to build deeper connections between the growing generational divide in our modern digital society. He can also be found sharing his wisdom at Universities across the US, as well as mentoring up and coming executives who are striving to establish their personal narrative in today’s workplace.
Tobin is embracing his “Modern Elder” status by injecting his creative passion into new ventures like Kitchen Collective – an urban cooking club in Napa, California, a Personal Narrative project to be announced in 2018, as well as advising for several next generation start ups.