Time, Gratitude & the Importance of Dreams
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,
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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.