Saturday, December 20, 2008 by Dave Blum

As a “hunt guy”, I tend to travel a lot for my corporate team building activities. On a typical trip, I jet into New Orleans, New York, Las Vegas or wherever, play-test treasure hunt clues, tend to logistics, assemble materials, meet with the client, deliver my team building activities, and rush to catch my flight back to San Francisco.  It’s nice to get away, sure, but these trips aren’t exactly a vacation.  Still, if I must spend a portion of my life on the road, I might as well take an interest in the journey, and that includes airports.  Along with thinking up new scavenger hunt ideas, of course, here’s a game I sometimes play while waiting for flights, both to slow myself down and to reconnect with the present.

Start by counting your footsteps.  See how many steps it takes to walk from security to your gate. Stay focused on each particular footstep, noticing how it feels, observing how the floor changes from tile to carpet to moving sidewalk, whatever.  Try not to count ahead or make predictions about how many steps it’ll take to reach your final location. Just stay focused on the steps. From time to time, slow down and stand still; look around and see if you can locate three interesting people in your sightline, or three unusual architectural details of the airport.  Then continue walking and counting steps from where you left off.  Stop again after 100 or so steps and inhale deeply, attempting to identify three unique airports smells (ugh!).  Continue on to your gate and once there, close your eyes and try to identify three specific airport sounds, sounds you might not hear anywhere else.

I think you’ll find that slowing down like this opens up new worlds.  Airports become fascinating places, packed with sights and sounds and sensations.  We like to think that our ultimate travel destination — the city, the hotel, our bedroom — is our final arrival.  But truly, we are all constantly arriving — at the here, at the now.