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On Life in the Time of Corona

If you’ve never read Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I highly recommend you do. Bonus, you’ll understand my title reference!

We are living in a unique moment in history.

It is not unique for the fact that a deadly virus is ripping through communities, but unique in that we all have a front-row seat to this disaster.

Never before has humanity been so well-connected through instant communication and information.

Never have we witnessed a global crisis in such an all-encompassing way.

We cannot escape the news — it permeates every facet of daily life. It’s on our phones and it’s on the radio, on TV and all over social media. It’s in traditional newspapers and it has taken over boardrooms, bedrooms, and even beaches.

This moment in history will not be a blip on the radar of humanity’s story. This is a monumental moment in time that can impact how we move forward.

So how will you move forward?

I’ve been privy to and involved in conversations throughout many travel, tourism, and media circles. Do you know what keeps coming up?

How can we make travel even better after this?

How can we focus more on sustainability and conservation now that the reset button has been pushed?

How can we improve the communities we visit around the world, giving back more than we take as tourists?

Yes, these conversations have always happened. But I have never seen them garner so much focus, energy, and effort as I have during this global standstill.

I don’t know what the future holds. But I would, personally, love to see a massive shift in how, where, when, and why we all travel.

Traveling to simply take photos as proof you saw the same popular thing a bunch of other people saw?

Yeah, that can go away now.

Traveling to check places off a list? Counting countries if you step foot there but gain no cultural understanding?

That can leave, too.

On the other hand, I’ve seen lots of folks show their incredible privilege during this conversation. I know my passport, race, language, education, social status, marital status, sexual orientation, and countless other factors have offered me advantages beyond belief.

Those advantages are not accessible to everyone.

And I am also not the most advantaged out there, apparently. Since I’ve seen lots of people saying that travel should only be for the wealthy. Perhaps not in that exact word, but the insinuation is there.

Telling folks not to travel abroad for only one week — saying that the number of hours of travel should indicate the number of nights you should stay.

For example, if you fly from Atlanta to Sydney, taking 28 hours to reach your final destination, then you need to stay a minimum of 28 days to make the journey “worthwhile” or valuable.

The problems with this attitude are multifold, but they partially include the luxuries of paid time off, affordability of accommodations and food, immigration concerns, as well as countless other issues that do not remotely reflect an individual’s attitude toward sustainability or conservation.

I enjoy these conversations and appreciate all perspectives.

I also marvel at the audacity of many online to espouse opinions framed as facts. I doubt such undeserved confidence would be demonstrated in person.

My current takeaways from this moment in time include the following…

Pause and Be Kind

As always, take a breath before posting anything anywhere. The internet is an unforgiving place. Reflect more, comment less. I, personally, try to always adhere to this (which makes me a terrible blogger as I am loathe to opine on social media).

Show more compassion. Forgive more quickly, offer grace more readily, and make a valiant attempt to understand others. Judgment is often misplaced and reflects more poorly upon you than the object of your judgment.

Use Your Time Wisely

Hobbies are actually what make up a life. Many of us spend a large percentage of our time between work and sleep. How you opt to spend the rest of your time is of vital importance.

I am of the opinion that you should never hate your job — no amount of money and no circumstance can balance hating the majority of your life. That said, it’s an incredible privilege to choose work you love. Try to at least not hate it.

My hobbies have included traveling, writing, reading, puzzles (jigsaw, crossword, sudoku, et al), and spending time with friends and family.

I can do all of these things during lockdown (save travel), yet I still find myself with time to spare. It’s an absolute wonder how much time we truly have, and it’s actually unforgivable to waste it!

Grasp the Reality of Humanity

Take a moment to truly consider this moment in time. What is abundantly clear is that we are inextricably connected, regardless of rhetoric or politics.

Nothing exists that can effectively divide us.

Walls, borders, and delineations between groups offer feeble defense against forces society cannot control.

Disease, climate — even the Internet! — float above these lines to connect us all.

For better or for worse, we’re all in this together. In sickness and in health. In good times and in horrific times…we may not have all signed marriage contracts, but our reality is reflected in those concepts.

So what will you do with this time?

Do not feel any obligation to be overly productive or creative. This is a brutal time to put pressure on ourselves to do anything beyond the basics.

But, perhaps, sit and consider those basics. Consider and think about your future in the grander scheme of life. Think and theorize better ways of being.

We can only make decisions for our individual lives right now. But we (the majority of us reading this) also have the power to mobilize and to vote into power those who will make better decisions for the greater good.

Now is a time to pause, to choose more wisely, and to accept that we are all part of each other’s lives.

Thanks for being in mine. xo