The subconscious as a travel agent

Well before my mother passed away after her battle with Alzheimer’s, while she still was aware of who I was and having more clarity about what was happening, we made sure to capture her living will and advance directive for medical decisions. While this is a difficult conversation to have with your loved one, it’s one you will be thankful for when you are faced with the very difficult decisions you might need to make concerning their health and treatment as they approach the end of their life. This allowed her to state her wishes: things like not wanting to be intubated or resurrected in the face of such a situation (she didn’t want to become a burden for an indefinite time), to wanting to be cremated, not buried, and rest close to my dad in Miami.

In a subsequent post, I will share more about the experience of my mother’s cremation: a tough episode, but one I’d love to share with anyone who could learn and benefit from it. Today, just over a year after she passed and was shortly after cremated, I find myself still having her ashes in the small box they put them in for me to take. A year ago, I told myself I’d be bringing the ashes to Miami “very soon”, yet here they still are… In connection with this, I found a recent experience fascinating and felt you’d appreciate the irony and the power of the subconscious.

Last year, I was invited to attend the North American HR Executive Summit in Orlando. Having registered for it back in August 2018, I forgot about it until early this year. Someone helped me get my hotel booked for it, so in January I sat to book my travel, and here’s where the interesting part begins… I convinced myself that the conference was going to be in Miami (a 4-hour drive and a 1-hour flight from Orlando), so I decisively proceeded to get all my travel set, including a stop in Denver on the way back home, to spend a day with the folks at myStrength, the company that Livongo acquired this year.

It wasn’t an easy task, I must say, because I try to fly Alaska whenever I can, and Miami is not one of the airports they fly to, so I had to go out of my way to find best fares to and from Miami. Ultimately, I aggregated all flight information and lodging information within TripIt, which has been a great tool to make sense of travel plans for many years now. I pull up the upcoming “Miami, Denver” trip, and that’s when it hit me: I didn’t need to go to Miami!! At least not for the HR Summit! Why did I do this?

Enter the subconscious… it is my belief that on the surface, I have been postponing bringing her ashes to their final resting place, as I am still working through some of the things that were left unsaid and undone. But my unconscious seems to have a different opinion: it seems to be saying “JUST DO IT! Be done with it, so you can move on.” If only it had done the full booking, and saved me a room in Miami, it would have probably tricked me into going there, with her ashes in hand.

I ended up changing all the tickets to/from the correct destination (although you could argue that I could have still stopped in Miami to drop off her ashes). I have now planned to make a dedicated trip to Miami for this, in March. And as the trip approaches, I feel some of the pain from her loss resurface, but it’s pain that I need to go through.