Adventuring Close to Home & Around the World
Last week I sent you my reflections on “Wanderlust in the Time of Coronavirus.” The response to that email was tremendously heartening and inspiring! More than 70 readers took the time to write back to me, sending everything from poems and paintings to book and film recommendations to heartwarming descriptions of travels past and to come, and strategies to continue to thrive within our current confines. Thank you! I can hardly express how much that response buoyed me and all of us here at GeoEx.
Some of you sent book recommendations.
Eileen Kurahashi wrote, “I’m stuck in Australia and reading The Biggest Estate on Earth, by Bill Gammage.” Claude Bernstine recommended Walking the Kiso Road, by William Scott Wilson, and Danniece Bobeche sent a photo of the book she’s reading, Caribbean, by James Michener. Marty Krasney wrote, “I’d like to suggest The Leopard, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa—book best, movie fine.” And Stephen Joseph Kukoy kindly wrote, “I recently reread your book, The Way of Wanderlust, and enjoyed it thoroughly. I agree with you—‘travel is my religion’ as well, so to make up for the inability to travel physically at this time, I’m rereading Paul Theroux’s The Pillars of Hercules and just starting his new book, On the Plain of Snakes. If we can’t travel as we are used to doing, we can certainly travel with our minds.” Amen!
Some of you shared what you’re doing to keep thriving at home.
Gwen wrote, “I’m cherishing my walks outside as travel. For now.” Amy Poster said, “Best for me is keeping in touch with friends worldwide.” Irene Rawlings wrote, “I, too, am putting together a list of places to go when the world stops tilting.” Kathy Wales said, “It’s also time to reflect on our travel memories and to finally edit all the photos.” Arnold Kanter added, “Aside from looking at photos, I’m reading those old journals that I wrote, some more than thirty years ago, that I thought neither I nor anybody else would ever look at again. Those journals evoke so many details of trips I’d taken that enhance the richness of my memories even more than the photos.” And Barbara Krause said, “I think I’ll brew a cup of tea, grab one of the cookies I just made, peruse my travel bookshelf for something to read (or reread), and settle in.”
Some of you sent even more ambitious responses, including poetry, essays, and paintings. We have created a blog page to share some of these responses here. Thank you all!
As for me, since I wrote you last week, I have become a bit more accustomed to the rhythms, rites, and riches of this new life. I have slowed down and embraced a much more Zen-infused approach to everyday acts. I’ve been remembering how, when I was studying Japanese tea ceremony, I learned to attend to and revel in each moment: the soothing shoosh of thick white socks crossing tatami mats, the slow lifting of the bamboo hishaku ladle to transfer hot water from the iron pot to the tea bowl, the plonk of the thin bamboo chashaku scoop on the lip of the tea caddy, the swish of the bamboo chasen whisking the green powder into a frothy tea, and the guest’s final satisfied slurping of this treat.
I’ve been trying to apply that kind of attentiveness to my everyday acts—absorbing the warmth and aroma of a steaming cup of tea, slicing a rainbow of red, green, yellow, and orange peppers for last night’s shrimp stir fry, listening to the soft patter of a morning rain-shower and inhaling the rich wet-earth scent afterward. On my daily backyard expeditions, I’ve seen last week’s lone freesia joined by a half dozen others, watched white and purple cyclamen open to the sun, spied tiny crimson rosebuds emerge, and picked plump glistening lemons. And I’ve relearned that the closer you look, the more the world bestows.
For music, I’m still letting Sadao Watanabe sweep me away to Japan and beyond with his luscious, lilting rhythms. I’ve also found delight in Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, whose notes always somehow purifyingly immerse me in nature. I’ve been losing myself to Monet’s painting Les Coquelicots, which embodies eternally youthful innocence and optimism for me. From the bookshelf, I’ve been rereading a favorite anthology of travelers’ tales called The Kindness of Strangers. This collection (which, I must blushingly admit, I edited) presents 24 true stories of unexpected kindness around the world; it’s a wonderfully uplifting antidote to the isolation of self-quarantine and the awkward emotional choreography of the social distance dance. Next on my reading list is Peter Matthiessen’s masterful, moving The Snow Leopard, a book that changed my life four decades ago, which I’m hoping will again provide guidance and inspiration.
I’ve also been checking in with friends around the globe to say hello and compare our sheltering situations; these e-threads weave a vibrant worldly shawl that shows just how intimately our individual isolations connect us all. I’ve been buying gift cards for some of my favorite restaurants and bookstores—a small gesture of support and solidarity in these challenging times. And I’ve been learning how many good people and organizations are working overtime to help people; just one among many of these is Feeding America, which has expanded its efforts to feed the growing ranks of people in need.
How about you? What have you been doing to keep your wanderlust alive? And how best can we help you thrive? One of the most inspiring outcomes of our global predicament has been how people have started coming together, on all kinds of levels, in all kinds of ways. Last week’s outpouring of responses from GeoEx travelers was a wonderful example of such coming together, and I warmly urge you to continue to share your recommendations and reflections. You can send them to me or share them with our wanderlust-loving community by posting your comments here. As I wrote last week, together we can turn this imposed isolation into a community celebration. We look forward to hearing from you!
Finally, a note about sowing and reaping: Two weeks ago, shortly before the shelter in place directive was announced, a dear friend gave us some beautiful purple tulips. Their blooms brightened our days until the last petals fell. Yesterday I planted this gift in a corner of our little garden because, as every wanderluster knows, there is a time to reap and a time to sow—and when those tulips bloom again next spring, they will remind me of this surreal scene and of the importance of seeding, and tending, every dream.
With that in mind, we at GeoEx will be sending some seeds your way in the days and weeks to come. This weekend we’ll spotlight a wonderful story by GeoEx staffer Jess Silber about her epiphanic trip to see gorillas in the Congo. And soon thereafter we’ll take you on an epic adventure to Antarctica through the photos of GeoEx’s Kate Doty.
We hope you’ll enjoy these seeds, and we hope they’ll sow some of your own travel dreams. Is there any special content you’d like to see from us as we prepare our virtual adventures? Please let us know!
Thank you for your attention, and for sharing this journey—our journey—together!
Yours in abiding wanderlust,
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When the time comes, GeoEx is here to tend to your wanderlust. If you have any questions about upcoming trips or booking future travel, we encourage you to call us at 888-570-7108.