Principle # 9 for keeping sane and productive in an insane world: Live everyday like you were in Madrid.
When you fly across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe and beyond, you will leave in the evening and arrive in the morning. You will try to sleep in a tiny seat unless you get bumped to first class like I did one time on my way to Egypt. It won’t work out that great. You will arrive tired.
My daughter Anna and I traveled to Spain in April 2022. It was partly to visit missionaries our church supported near Barcelona. It was also partly to tour Spain. The ticket to fly into Spain and out of Barcelona was nearly the same as flying in and out of Barcelona, so I thought, why not see these two great cities and take the train to Barcelona? That’s what we did.
When we arrived in Madrid, we were tired. We checked into our hotel and both laid down to sleep. I woke up about a half an hour later and said to myself? “What am I doing sleeping? I’m in Madrid!” So, I got up, left a note for my daughter, and went out to walk around.
I did need coffee, though. I went right down the street and found that icon of Madrid: Tim Horton’s. No, the place where I walked was not one of the great tourist spots of Madrid, but it was Madrid. I loved it. I savored it. I looked at every shop, listened to every person, and observed the architecture of every building. I was in Madrid!
A year later, I went back to Madrid. I had arranged a mission trip for my church with the missionaries from Spain. We were going to go work at a camp north of Sevilla in the south of Spain. I had no idea if anyone would go, but I bought my plane ticket for the trip. It was an unheard of $375 round trip from my local regional airport in Knoxville to Madrid. I not only bought the ticket for the week of the mission trip. I would actually go one week earlier and spend a week in Madrid. If no one went on the trip and it got cancelled, what was the worst that could happen? I would spend two weeks in Spain. That did not seem like a bad downside.
The mission trip did happen, and I did spend a week in Madrid. I walked all over the city. I took tours. I visited museums. I talked to people. I tried restaurants. I loved every moment of it. I was in Madrid!
Thinking back on all this when I arrived home, I thought, what if I could live here in Tennessee like I was in Madrid? What if I saw my own city with the excitement of being in a foreign country?
It is really not that unreasonable. There are people here who have stories. There is natural beauty to see. There are animals to observe. There are restaurants to visit. There are visitors from other places. There are fascinating stories in this place. There are sites and attractions and parks and businesses and houses and architecture and events to see. So why not live here like I was in Madrid?
For me, it’s even easier. I live near Pigeon Forge, TN. Everyone wants to come here. Everyone loves it. Everyone wants to move here. I own a home for which I pay less per month than what some people pay per day for a large cabin! Can I enjoy that? Can I have that excitement like I was in Madrid?
It’s hard sometimes. We get used to things, and we get bored with them. We categorize them in our mind and stop really seeing them. But we have only scratched the surface of the places where we live. I am reminded of that when I visit foreign countries. I study the country and learn about it. I go there and am generally able to tell people things that they don’t even know about their own country. I have had the reverse experience here. People visit here, and I keep learning about my own city from them. There’s more to see and know than we think. There’s more excitement than we think.
We can live each day like we were visiting a foreign country. We can capture the wonder of visiting a new destination each day. We can live each day like we had just landed in Madrid.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. It is a series of posts where I share principles or ways of seeing things that have helped keep me sane and productive in the midst of raising seven kids, pastoring churches for 19 years, getting higher degrees, and traveling the world. I hope that you find them helpful and that I’ll see you here again. Subscribe below to keep updated on the posts.