I'd recently took a trip away to Tofino, British Columbia, to complete some work and escape the distractions of everyday life. When I arrived I was ready to churn out pure productivity, I could already feel my ego withering away as my inner-desires activated, engaged by thoughts of freedom, fun and accomplishment.
It was late, dark and very quiet. I immediately felt a slight anxiety as I entered this small town as lone outsider/tourist. I pulled up and greeted my AirBnB host with very quick hello and was given a 2 minute tour of the property…not even 10 minutes had passed by and beers were already being poured. I could already tell that this town had adopted a 'live-in-the-moment' mentality and any thoughts of anxiety were soon forgotten.
My host was an energetic character originally from Alberta, Canada. He’d given up his lucrative career, working on an oil rig, to pursue his passions. He became an artist and had moved to Tofino to seek liberation and to freely create. I had told him about my initial anxiety and how quickly it was dispelled, I mentioned my work and my writing and my reason for visiting. He talked about how many of the people living in Tofino weren't really from there, many of the people he had met and many of the people I had interacted with, seemed to have similar reasons for being there.
My first day though was pretty amazing, normally when I wake up my first thoughts are to check my Blackberry for any new emails from potential clients and to check my blog-stats. The internet connectivity was awful so right way I was forced into mindfulness. I got up early, caught the sun rise, meditated, went for a run and had my first Vegan breakfast (it was delicious) all before 7am.
After I had showered and changed, I took my laptop down to a waterfront restaurant and within minutes I was tranced into a flow state. Usually I would check all sorts of social media platforms and spend the first hour catching up with the rest of the world. This time was very different.
Later that day, I explored the neighbourhood and struck up conversations with random people. It became apparent that many people who come along to Tofino, although initially motivated by escape, were really there to just be themselves. To engage the capabilities of their identities in order to discover bliss. Nobody seemed too focused on status, money, popularity or anything else that bound people to lives that lacked fulfillment.
Nobody really cared about anything else other than making the most of every moment and that didn't really mean partying and having fun in the traditional sense. It meant making the most of one's passions, perfecting skills and becoming the best individual one can be. Investing every spare moment engaging an inner spirit and tapping into a self-confidence that came with true independence. Many people had visited from bigger towns and cities, only to remain there after experiencing some sort of detachment. Towards the end of my trip, even I was contemplating the thought of calling it home.
I couldn't help feeling empathy for those that sought freedom and liberation there. Many people seemed to have detached from their old lives, only to attach themselves to Tofino. I wondered how many will learn to carry this experience with them as they re-enter the lives they’d left behind.
My mum had incidentally given me a book called “why ----- mind matters.” It explored Buddhist philosophies concerning the mind. It was an easy book and within the first ten minutes I came across this quote:
“Man is essentially the manifestation of his thought forces.”
I thought I went to Tofino to work, to finish some writing as I embark on yet another goal. I thought I had to be there to bring back the inspiration and motivation I sought, to complete my book. Truth is, Tofino just allowed me to calm my mind and had given me time to think. It reminded me of the importance of focusing internally.
Prior to this trip, my mind seemed to be in several different places at once, I couldn't focus on writing and output seemed to lack passion. I had all the same ideas, but at home I couldn't bring them alive because I kept trying to focus with an external intention.
In other words, I was focusing on an outcome of a task rather than the purpose of carrying the task out. So when I would attempt to write at home, I was driven more by thoughts of getting my book published and the possibility of new opportunities and travelling more. When writing in Tofino, I reconnected with the internal intention; I wrote because I enjoyed it and because I’m passionate about what I want to share.
Now that I’m back on the ferry heading back home to familiarity, I’m returning with my intentions intact. I feel I understand what it means to put my mind to something now.
We can be anywhere in the world physically, but what truly matters as we embark on ambitious goals, is where we allow our minds to travel.