Back to School Special: Take a Bus to Your Future

I thought I was long beyond the days of that late August/early September Back to School feeling.  Yet here it is.  It is September. I am back in the U.S., back to Washington, DC, after nearly three months in Greece. People that were on vacation in DC in August are back to their offices and their emails. People that were on vacation in Greece in August are back to their offices and their emails.

Acting on the old Back to School feeling was simple enough: buy crayons (or, I suppose, laptop), set alarm much earlier, get re-acquainted with desk.  The subject matter, teachers and classmates would change, and sometimes the technology, but the routine, while different from the summer routine, would be quite similar to the previous year.

This new feeling is more difficult to act upon. There is no real transition:  my work is the same, and I never really stopped for summer; I just worked from Greece.  Now that I am back, however, people are asking about my experience in Greece, and I still have some assessing to do to truly answer their questions, and the questions I still have.

I already started this process in August, while still in Greece. In a way, I had no choice – I spent a lot of time on buses this summer. Greek KTEL buses with no wi-fi. This included at least three seven-hour bus rides, among several others. At first I dreaded it, wondering what I would do to pass the time besides eating potato chips, but I found myself looking forward to the refuge of being disconnected and finally having time to think. I took care of simple, daily tasks: short-term to-do list, shopping list, drafting emails in a Word document to send later. I read a book for a while. This did not take up seven hours, so eventually I ended up reflecting more deeply on what I was seeing, hearing, experiencing and perceiving in Greece this summer. Then I reviewed my short-term and long-term personal and professional goals.

Now I am recommending the experience. I recommend going beyond the usual logistical preparations to return to a pre-summer routine. What better time than September to really examine what you’ve experienced, where you are going, where you want to go, and how you want to change your world?  Disconnect for a good seven hours.  Put yourself on a bus if it’s the only way you will stay put for that long (it’s the only way I can stay put). Reflect.

And buy some crayons.

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