Time, Gratitude & the Importance of Dreams | GeoEx
  • Share:

Time, Gratitude & the Importance of Dreams

By Don George | April 7, 2020

Sunlight peering through trees.

Last week’s letter describing what a number of GeoEx staffers are doing to keep their wanderlust alive struck a chord with many of you. Thank you for your enthusiastic responses. Our precious relationship with you—our passionate travelers—is the core of what we do and why we do it, and it was immensely gratifying to see this outpouring of concern, support, and solidarity from you. Thank you!

In the past week, as I’ve settled into this new (and temporary, as I keep assuring myself) normal, I’ve been reflecting that in life, as in travel, unanticipated disruptions can be viewed as a disaster, an inconvenience, or an opportunity. In travel, I’ve always chosen to view these as opportunities, and so I am choosing to do with this life-disruption, too. I’ve been thinking about the unexpected gifts that working from home has bestowed, and one of the greatest gifts of all has been simply time.

With no commute and minimal distractions, every day seems both longer and somehow gentler. I know this isn’t true for everyone—if my children were young enough to be home and needing home-schooling, for example, I don’t think I’d be writing these same words. But for my empty-nesting wife and me, the rhythm of the day is evenly paced. After breakfast, I go to my study, and all my activities—writing, reading, business meetings—take place right there. At the end of the workday, there’s no rush hour traffic to contend with and no events or gatherings to race off to; we suddenly have time to cook, and to have leisurely meals and conversations. And of course, I have time for my daily backyard expeditions.

Time slows and stretches, and when that happens, I’m able to see more clearly, breathe more deeply, live more keenly. It’s one of the gifts I normally prize when I travel and am lifted out of my daily routine, but in this upside-down shelter-in-place world, the gift is being immersed in this new, non-traveling daily routine.

Another gift of this disruption has been the amplitude of my gratitude. Every day, with every article I read and newscast I see, I feel a new surge of almost inexpressible gratitude for all the heroes on the front lines—the medical personnel especially, but also the grocery store clerks, pharmacists, sanitation workers, public transportation drivers, police and firefighters, scientists and medical researchers, all of the people in essential jobs who are out there every day putting their health at risk to do the work that has to be done.

I’m also grateful for my family and a supportive circle of close friends. We have regular Skype check-ins with our children and I maintain regular email exchanges with friends. While I have mixed feelings about social media, judicious doses of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have proven good ways to keep enlivening and expanding my world from the isolation of my study. And I’m grateful to my cherished colleagues, who are finding creative ways to keep their—and our—spirits up and who are working as hard as, or harder than, ever. I have renewed gratitude for this wide network of support, which is both grounding and buoying in these unsettled and unsettling times.

I’m also grateful to the goddess Serendipity, who as always places unexpected gifts in my path. One of these this past weekend was the opportunity to host an online conversation with the wonderful author Isabel Allende as part of Book Passage bookstore’s newly launched Conversations with Authors series.

During the course of our conversation, Isabel and I talked about the new stay-at-home world. We talked about how it is as if a global Pause button has been pushed, and how this pause represents an opportunity for us all to reflect on our lives before and after: Do we want to keep living the way we’ve been living? Is there anything we want to change going forward? We can ask these questions on every level, from the personal to the national to the international. Thinking this way, Isabel memorably concluded, we can see that this moment offers us the rare chance to enact an evolutionary quantum leap. The opportunity is ours to seize. [You can view the conversation in its entirety here: https://bookpassage.extendedsession.com/session/isabel-allende/]

I have been thinking along these lines, too. Watching the astonishing global effort to find a cure to COVID-19, I have been thinking, what if we could marshall the same global resources, will, and sense of urgency to eradicate the other viruses—poverty, ignorance, pollution, and more—that plague our planet? Think of what we could accomplish! In recent years, “disruption” has become the It notion in the tech world; disruption gives birth to business-transforming, society-realigning change. Now we are living disruption on a global scale. As Isabel said, this is an unprecedented opportunity for us as a planetary species, as the one tribe we truly are, to reassess where we have been and where we are going, and to ponder what really matters, inside ourselves and outside, in the world we make.

Are we on the brink of an evolutionary quantum leap? Wouldn’t that be wonderful!

My conversation with Isabel reinforced for me the importance of tending our dreams, especially in our current situation. And as I inevitably do, I returned in my mind to the world of travel. One gift of this sheltering at home, as I wrote in an earlier letter, has been to make me realize anew just how fundamentally important travel is to my life. And especially in this state of suspension, travel-dreaming gives an essential sense of direction and purpose.

A corollary gift, I’ve realized since my talk with Isabel, is a new sense of urgency about my travel dreams. If COVID-19 had not pressed the planetary Pause button, right now I would be in Japan on a GeoEx journey, exclaiming at evanescent cherry blossoms and soaking in soul-soothing onsens. This has made me think—and I know it has made many others like me think as well—that when we are able to travel the world again, I’m not going to postpone the really important trips for an uncertain tomorrow: I’m going to do them ASAP! This urgency inspired me to spend a heavenly hour yesterday trekking through the exquisite GeoEx catalog, truly a book of dreams.

Where do I want to go ASAP? There are so many places I want to go, so many trips I want to take, but at the top of my list is an expedition to see gorillas, in Uganda, Rwanda, or the Congo, as Jess Silber so vividly described in her wonderful story. Somehow the notion of a close encounter with these ancient, intimate relatives is irresistible.

I’m thinking too of Antarctica; once upon a time, I thought this was just a vast white wasteland, but everyone I know who has gone there has called it a life-changing experience, and I think now’s a good time for a mind-cleansing, soul-soaring adventure.

Where else? The purity of Bhutan deeply appeals, especially this enticing trip to little-visited Eastern Bhutan. And one natural phenomenon I want very much to see is the Northern Lights, so I’ve got Iceland in my sights.

How about you? What’s on your ASAP list?

We want to hear your dreams! Please share them with our community of wanderlusters in the Leave a Reply field below, or if you prefer, send them in an email to me.

And whenever you’re ready to start making that ASAP plan, please give us a call. We’d love to work with you to make your travel dreams come true!

Yours in abiding wanderlust,

Don George

* * * * *

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.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
16 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Michelle Lerandeau
Michelle Lerandeau
6 months ago

Dear Mr. George,
I just finished watching your conversation with Isabel Allende through Book Passage’s author series. I wanted to express to you how your humanity, compassion and kindness shone through my computer monitor and into my study, lighting up my quiet room with kindness. I feel refreshed and invigorated. Thank you! I wish I knew you in person.

Best wishes to you and your family,
Michelle

Don George
Editor
Don
6 months ago

Dear Michelle, Thank you so much for this beautiful and touching note! I so very much appreciate your kind words. I loved conversing with Isabel; she is such a vigorous spirit, so compassionate and kind. I am so happy that our conversation made you feel refreshed and invigorated! And I hope very much that I’ll have the pleasure of meeting you in person someday. Thank you again for your kind words. All best wishes to you! — Don

Claude Bernstein
Claude Bernstein
6 months ago

Don, I can only tell you that the Gorillas were my wife’s most impactful trip of her life and probably mine…. We entered the Park through Rwanda.. but there are as you mention many Avenues of entry. Maybe we made a mistake but Bhutan aside from a wonderful visit in the Valley with the Crane counters, an odd group … we found many areas repetitive and that could be because the country was so closed to the outside for so long..children walking 90 minutes each way everyday to school was quite impactful.. and guides eating chilies dried on roof tops… Read more »

Don George
Editor
Don
6 months ago

Dear Claude — thanks for your wonderful note. You’ve intensified my desire to see the gorillas ASAP! As for Iceland and Antarctica — I hope to see you on my trips! Hugs to you! — Don

John Pressler
6 months ago

For the last 35 years that I’ve been travelling the world I’ve stopped to note we as Americans are so lucky and this has been our Golden Age of travel. Everyone respected Americans, everyone gladly accepted the dollar and everyone it seemed spoke English making travel so easy for us. But now I fear this may be coming to an end, not just for Americans but for everyone. Borders may tighten, politics is slowly making respect for Americans harder to come by and if printing 2 trillion dollars with questionable collateral doesn’t cause inflation, I don’t know what would. I… Read more »

Don George
Editor
Don
6 months ago
Reply to  John Pressler

Dear John, Thank you for your very thoughtful and heartfelt note. I too wonder what the new world of travel will look like, but I am optimistic that we will be able to travel widely again before too long. Travel is too fundamentally important to the planet for us to lose it. Perhaps travel will not be as carefree as it was, but I think we will always find a way to travel with positive intentions and goodwill. At least, I very much hope so!

Allison Bergstrom
Allison Bergstrom
6 months ago

I went through a period of “mourning” of my loss of travel when the stay at home order was first announced here in Chicago. Now that some time has passed, I’m able to think about travel again. I had a scheduled trip to Israel, Palestine and Jordan for mid-May that was cancelled–I hope to reschedule for the end of the year. I booked a trip to Iceland for late July before COVID-19 hit and I hold out hope I’ll be able to go. Some other bucket list trips on my list are the Galapagos, Douro Valley in Portugal, Gorilla trekking… Read more »

Don George
Editor
Don
6 months ago

Dear Allison, thank you for this wonderful and inspiring note! I love your list! I very much hope your Iceland and Israel/Palestine/Jordan trips will work out — I have been to the latter area and it’s incredibly rich with history and culture and great human warmth. Maybe I’ll see you on a gorilla trek — I hope so! All best wishes!

Lloyd Margetts
Lloyd Margetts
6 months ago

Dear Allison – it is crucial that we all have patience and endure the discipline needed to bring the infection rate down. As travelers we need to develop a larger ‘world view’ and respect the rights and safety of all in the world, and exporting our (new found) virus to others would be a terrible legacy for us. Stay safe at home for now, please.

Astrid Powell
Astrid Powell
6 months ago

I agree with your top of the list…..as I have been to all the other countries you are mentioning.
I am hoping to travel soon again!!!!

Don George
Editor
Don
6 months ago
Reply to  Astrid Powell

Dear Astrid, thank you so much for your note. It’s wonderful that you have been to all these places. May we all travel again soon! What’s next on your list?

carmen gonzalez
carmen gonzalez
6 months ago

Thank You for reconnecting me to my connections which ,like for you have been my travels. In times of severe change at times one loses the ability to pull from their personal cache memories ,adventures and people that have made the memory. I did that. The world and tracking across it is my passion and being limited to my home which I love ❤️ but is very small, I have let sadness, anger and fear swirl into my space. Reading your blog today has helped me to stop grinding the gears and slowly breathe into the gear that makes my… Read more »

Don George
Editor
Don
6 months ago

Dear Carmen, thank you so much for this thoughtful and moving note! We are happy that our blog could be some help to you, and we look forward to helping you with your next adventure! Keep planning and dreaming! 🙂

Lloyd Margetts
Lloyd Margetts
6 months ago

We have many wonderful trips planned – some cancelled or deferred. But the main urgency is in getting the airports safe to use again after controlling the rampant virus by social distancing, etc.. It is a criminal disgrace that TSA refused to sterilise property bins at X-ray check lines, as this breach of ‘duty of care’ was a critical weakness allowing the virus to spread rapidly around the world. Why do authorities refuse to test airport surfaces (and bins) for virus ? This was the transmission zone which ‘fed’ asymptomatic carriers into the cruise ship system, now trashing their reputation… Read more »

Don George
Editor
Don
6 months ago
Reply to  Lloyd Margetts

Hi Lloyd, Thanks for your comment and for raising this important issue. I very much hope TSA will address this. All best wishes to you.

Lloyd Margetts
Lloyd Margetts
6 months ago
Reply to  Don

TSA have so far refused to move on this issue, although it remains a crucial one for re-opening the airports safely when restrictions are lifted. An especially important issue for cruise ships, because most passengers fly to embarkation. Without so many asymptomatic infections the cruising reputation would not have been trashed as it has been.

Where Can I Travel Now?

Borders are opening to US travelers in some exciting places.
 
close-link