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With so much to see and do in the world, it’s easy to jam pack our calendars. I admit, I am one of those people. Living in New York City means there’s always some new experience, and when I travel, I try to fill my agenda with as many things as possible.

And it doesn’t help that social media and entire industries are dedicated to making you aware of all the things you could be doing. No wonder FOMO has become an epidemic.

But, on my most recent trip to Antarctica, I was actually encouraged and reminded to just be in the moment.

Story Time

Antarctica was an adventure I’d been planning for years. I’ve always wanted to see the penguins there, and it was the last of the seven continents on my list to visit. With so much build-up, you’d imagine I’d fall right back into that do-everything-possible pattern I’ve come to adopt so well. I was ready for it. Give me all the expedition gear, tell me all the hikes available, and fill my days with activities.

Like most cruises, I expected there to be an endless supply of entertainment. To my surprise, the message they kept delivering over and over was to get off the internet, put down the books, and take in the beauty of Antarctica.

If there were any FOMO to be had, it would be missing out on these incredible real-life images right outside the window. Yes, there were some lectures and a trivia night. But there was a lot of quiet time both on and off the boat. I would spend hours just sitting in the panorama lounge looking as icebergs, and humpback whales passed me by. The best entertainment was right out my tiny cabin window as penguins gracefully jumped through the sea.

Take in the Moments

This idea of taking it all in was made clear when my husband and I decided to camp one night on the actual continent. Given the strict restrictions, only a certain number of people can be on the mainland at any given time. Plus, there’s not exactly any hotels. So, there were only a handful of slots available to do the rare camp out.

I was so ready for there to be lots of meeting and greeting amongst campers, time spent on setting up camp, and information from the guide. Instead, it was much simpler. The guides told us to bring nothing, but winter clothing and they provided just a tent and a sleeping bag. Once camp was set up by 9:30 pm, we were instructed to be quiet. That was it. There was no mingling or lectures. There was no cell phone ringing, TV playing, people talking, or any distractions to be had. Our only instruction (after popping up our tent, of course) was just to be.

So, my husband and I just sat there for a while listening to the crackling of the ice, feeling the crisp air, and watching as seals and penguins going about their business. Like the other campers, we barely conversed. We were there, completely present in the moment, and it was pure magic.

Just Be…

I was never bored even though there was nothing to entertain us. In fact, I didn’t want to go to sleep for fear of missing out on a single wild sound in the distance. There were no distractions except the sounds of whales and glaciers calving while camping
I was totally in the present, and no Instagram moment could capture that pure bliss. Even better, I didn’t fear I was missing anything exciting back home. There could be nothing greater than what I was doing at that moment, and I was doing nothing. I was just being.

While we can’t have this type of stillness all the time in our hectic lives, it was a good reminder that the moment and place you are in is where you’re supposed to be. Even if you aren’t in an adventurous destination like Antarctica, the present is where life happens. Don’t worry about what you’re missing. As the Dalai Lama once said, “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow. So, today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly live.”

TIMA Contributor Jordi Lippe-McGraw is the owner and author of Well Traveler, a blog dedicated to navigating life through beautiful and practical stories from around the world, inspiring people to embrace their individual journeys and learn simple steps towards creating a happy and healthy life.

Read more about Jordi here.

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