Monday, July 11, 2011

Guided Tour

This last weekend, I had company from out of town. My visitor was someone who lived across the street from me in Memphis when we were kids. He and his sister were part of a group of kids with whom I played and rode bikes. We had not seen each other since our early teens and had not stayed in touch until last year when our paths crossed in cyberspace.

He now lives in New Orleans, and until this weekend, had never been in the Northwest, which is about as far away from New Orleans in every sense as one can get in the continental US. So for three days, I was his guide, giving him his first impression of the place I have called home for twenty years. I wanted him to see the beautiful scenery of course, but I also wanted him to understand something of the culture here, the inner workings of this city and this region.

Although I never take my life here for granted, being a tour guide for a newcomer gave me the opportunity to look at my home with fresh eyes, to voice what I appreciate about living here, to share my enthusiasm about my life here. As the days went by, I found myself more consciously aware of what was best about the place. Oh, there are faults to be sure, and I didn’t deny them, but I wanted to put my city’s best foot forward, so to speak. And as I did so, I was filled with tenderness and love and gratitude for this community which welcomed me with open arms all those years ago.

It occurred to me that we might awaken this same tenderness and compassion for ourselves by a similar process. If you were going to take someone on a guided tour of your life, what would it look like? If you wanted someone to understand and appreciate who you are, what would you say?

Many guide books include sections on history, culture, places to see, and things to do. A guide book for our lives could include these same sections. What are the significant events in your history? What are your qualities and values that would help someone understand who you are today? Are there any customs or taboos that a visitor should know about? And what are the best things about you, the things you would want someone to be sure to see? Don’t forget that guide books include things to do that are fun! What would someone enjoy most about you?

If you have time and are so inclined, I invite you to be a tour guide for your own life. You could write a guide book or just jot down some notes. Or you could simply think about it. My hope is that a fresh look at our lives in this way will awaken compassion for ourselves. There is a saying that charity begins at home. Compassion does, too. Experiencing compassion and appreciation for ourselves will spill over to others as well.

Enjoy your tour!

Related post: First Date


  1. Galen: Good story. When people visit, we do the same thing. It is actually fun, and our friends get to visit places not in the tour books.l

  2. What a great idea! I'm definitely going to give some thought to my guide book.

  3. I love this! I also noticed how differently I see my city when I play tour guide. Trying to look at something familiar with my visitor's eyes is always interesting and I always discover something new I like. I will try to do it for myself as well :)

  4. Hi Galen,
    Great idea. Will allow us to look at our Life from a different perspective, which is often needed.
    be good to yourself

  5. Very nice twist to your post. Being a tour guide for your own life..that is a challenge. Most of us are too hard on ourselves, tending to gloss over the good parts and emphasize the negatives: exactly the opposite of a good guide book.

    Nice thought starter

  6. Finding lost friends again is wonderful isn't it! Thanks for leaving such a nice comment "about me"....! ...and for the tour part of your post I love that too...I recently began showing my older grandchildren (a peek into my exciting feel of the world according to Minnesota) as my son puts it! There are so many precious and small things of importance just around the corner that even their school field trips won't show them! Life is good if we just open our eyes!

  7. Thanks fo all for your comments.

    JJ--Right. I got to see some places I haven't been to for years!

    Kara--Have fun and let me know what the highlights are!

    Beliza--It does look different through fresh eyes, doesn't it?

    David--I'll try to, thanks.

    Bob--So true. We focus on the "slums" of our own lives. I hope this will encourage us to look at our best features.

    Karen--My dad was like that. He knew so much interesting information about little out of the way places in the city where I grew up.

  8. So sweet to reconnect with old friends! And, a compassionate tour of our lives is a lovely idea, Galen! I Love this invitation, and shall ponder more on it!

  9. Antonia--Glad you like the idea. Hope you enjoy your tour!

  10. What a clever idea, Galen! I love the idea of looking at oneself from a fresh perspective.

  11. Hi Galen,

    I enjoyed this guided tour article! :D

    I love how interconnected life is. In this instance, bringing someone on a guided tour of your town led you to realize that we can do the same for our lives. It is indeed a stroke of brilliance and creativity to use the sections from guidebooks to highlight key features of your life. I love the idea!

    It is true, when we look at our lives in this light, we will see it with fresh eyes and want to present the best side to visitors as well. So naturally we will have to be compassionate with ourselves since we know our own strengths and weaknesses.

    When it comes to feeling compassion for ourselves and our lives, it pays to look at the bigger picture and to realize that everything that has happened to us happens for a reason. We might have made some poor choices or mistakes simply because we needed to learn important lessons that life has for us. When we bring visitors on a guided tour of our lives, these mistakes become milestones that made us better people.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

  12. Galen -- I love your analogy with taking out-of-town-folks-on-a-tour of how we share ourselves with the world. It's a teaching rule of the road that we always put our positive comments about a student in front of the red flags when we talk with parents. We do it for two reasons: to remind parents of the good things that they are doing and thereby encourage future positive outcomes. The second reason is to remind ourselves (as teachers) that every person (which includes adults as well as students)has some good "stuff" inside trying to get out and that, if we lead with our best foot forward as much as possible, then good qualities and attributes will spill into the not-so-successful areas and give a boost on how we/others see and interact with the world. I am going to outline my compassionate "tour" plan for myself today. This will useful for good and less-good times in my life. Cathie

  13. I love to journal; but I also enjoy writing histories. Thus far I have completed my parents histories. Most of my mother's history was written by her. I have yet to start my own history; but it is on the back burner.
    Thanks for your thoughts on this today!
    Blessings to you!
    Living Waters by LeAnn
    Google comments not working!

  14. My company is gone and I am trying to get caught up and move forward. I tried to take them on a tour and it was fun to do a sailboat trip around Budd Inlet out to the Lighthouse. My childhood stomping grounds and an area which truly formed me
    I so need water in my life, and I was amazed at home many hundreds of giant home had sprung up along the formerly wooded beaches. I am still feeling a bit sad.

    I like you idea of a tour guide book for ones life - feels like a very fine idea and excursion
    You do have a way with words and thank you for your comments on my company post :)

  15. Sandra--Glad you like the idea. Hopefully, we can be a little more charitable towards ourselves if we are expecting tourists!

    Irving--Thanks to you, I can add creativity and brilliance to my "places to see"! Thank you for the kind words. I especially appreciate your compassionate perspective on the mistakes we make.

    Cathie--Thanks for sharing your perspective as a teacher. I'm glad you are going to make your tour plan. Have fun!

    LeAnn--I have some family histories that some of my relatives have done. They are treasures. I hope you enjoy writing your own.

    Patricia--Glad you enjoyed showing your company around. Hope you will try the personal excursion, too. Thanks for your kind words.

  16. A wonderful post. Thanks Galen

  17. I enjoyed how you turn a guided tour into a lesson on compassion. It didn't occur to me when I first read the beginning paragraph. Your post is beautifully written. It just shows how aware you are as a person. Everyday situations are transformed into lessons weaved with meaning.

    It is such synchronicity that we seem to be writing about the same topics. It'll be interesting to see what happens next week LOL!

    Have an awesome week ahead,

  18. Intriguing challenge.

    But since I really dislike living here in Pa, I've often wondered where I would take someone who came from out of state. It wasn't too many places. I would be hard pressed to find something enjoyable or positive to visit.

    As for myself, I'll have to think about it.

    Excellent post!

  19. Riley--Thanks!

    Evelyn--Yes, it is interesting. I should check your blog before I post something to see if you have already covered it! Hope you have a good week, too.

    ryoko--Hmm, that is a challenge. Maybe a PA guide book might help? If not, then imagine giving a guided tour of someplace you love. See how that feels. Then imagine doing the same for your own life. It will feel good, too!

  20. A super idea and I bet you enjoyed being a tour guide during their visit. Sometimes we can see more of what's in our community when showing someone around. Great post!

  21. Cynthia--Glad you like the idea. And yes, I saw my home in a whole new light. Thanks for commenting.

  22. Interesting concept to take a tour of your life, but definitely something to think about. We don't always take the time to reflect on who we are and where we've been. Thanks.

  23. Cathy--Hope you give it a try. Have fun! And thanks for commenting.

  24. This idea might just be what I re-find myself and take note of more than just one part of my life. (No, the kick-boxing hasn't happened yet but it will!) Thank you, again, Galen, for reminding me to keep looking at more than one try to like (or love) myself again...I need that!
    Oh, and the pigeon is sooo cute :)
    Katy xxx

  25. Hi Galen, love that the perfect place is the place you life and also love the idea of connecting a tour of your hometowm with a little history of you. It's a great idea that would show why you picked it, where you like to hang out and what you love about it most:)

    I'm going to link to this from my perfect place now and thanks so much for joining in!

  26. What a perfect idea. I think making ourselves our own tour guides will open up so many different layers of our hearts and spirits. Thank you.


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