You can tell a lot about a person’s priorities by the way they walk.

I started noticing my American stride when trying to walk and talk with an Indonesian.  During our conversation his voice would trail off and I would realize I was three steps ahead of him.  He kept falling behind.  Either that, or I couldn’t handle walking as slow as he did.  I didn’t have anywhere in particular to be; there was no reason for me to walk fast.  Realizing my habitual walking pace is apparently quite quick compared to non-Americans, I had to consciously slow my steps in order for us to talk.

Since then I’ve tried to pay attention to how I walk, and how others around me walk.  Yesterday, I passed a middle aged Jordanian man walking to the super market.  It was striking how slow he was going.  Or maybe it was me that was in such a hurry.  He genuinely seemed to be enjoyed his walk, not rushing to get to the next item on his to-do list.

Being in the moment is something we Americans don’t do well, but it’s something we need to learn.

“Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. Ours is a culture that measures our worth as human beings by our efficiency, our earnings, our ability to perform this or that. The cult of productivity has its place, but worshipping at its altar daily robs us of the very capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living — for, as Annie Dillard memorably put it, ‘how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.’” – Maria Popova

Becoming more aware of myself has been one of my biggest take aways from travel.  What about you?  Let us know in the comments.