Okay fair warning you guys, this post is gonna start off a little sappy-sad! But as promised, the positive outlook I’m going to keep in all of my posts isn’t too far down, and I promise it’s worth the read.
I want to start by telling you that one of the hardest, and most amazing, parts of being a traveler. When you visit new places and meet new people, inevitably, you end up with scattered pieces of your heart all over the world. You leave those pieces in the hands of some of the most incredible people you know, full well knowing that even though this means there will always be a part of you missing, and it hurts like hell, you wouldn’t trade that hurt for anything.
In fact, that’s my favorite part of travel. Those meetings are what make travel so special. The friends I make, the lessons I learn, the experiences I have with them that I literally have never had with a single other person on this planet, and likely never will. That’s what makes travel special to me.
So when I say I miss my friends, I actually mean my heart aches being so far away from them.
Now that’s not new to quarantine life. This is a constant for me. So much so that on my travels, if I’m anywhere near one of them, it doesn’t become a question of will I get to see them, it becomes what on my trip do I need to adjust to make this possible? See, I’ve learned over the years that I’m one of the lucky ones who’s been able to keep traveling. For a lot of my friends, that’s not possible. So I’ve come to realize and embrace that part of my traveler spirit will be to visit my friends who may not have the same freedom to come visit me.
Now, prioritizing that may sound silly to you as a traveler. After all, what about all of the exciting unknown places and people that are out there? And don’t get me wrong, those motivate my travels just as much. Hell, how do you think I met all these friends in the first place! But for me, seeing these old friends fulfills a part of my traveler soul that is just as important to me as finding new adventures and new places. For me, it’s like coming home to family I haven’t seen in years.
So what makes that special during this time? Well, now I miss them in a new kind of way.
First, I would literally kill for a hug from all of my friends around the world right now. (Normally my missing them isn’t so extreme as to kill for a hug, but under the circumstances…) Partly I want to hug them because I want to know their okay, partly it’s because I want them to know that I’m here for them, and partly, because honestly I think we could all use a reassuring hug from someone we care about right now, myself included.
But here’s how everything that’s going on had made me miss them in an entirely new way. No matter the distance, or the time apart, or anything, there’s always been an end to that feeling. Even if it’s only temporary while I’m visiting them, there is an end. But right now? In all of this? I honestly have no idea how long it will be until I get to see them. And that both scares me and makes me really, really sad.
Okay, sappy-sad part over! Because yes, while this hurts and totally sucks worse than usual, it’s not the end of the world. And I can take that worry and do something about it.
So, I’ve started taking some lessons from it.
First, we live in a world where there is a ridiculous number of platforms for connecting with people. There’s literally no excuse not to keep in touch! So I’ve been making the effort to reach out more. And that effort has extended beyond just my friends abroad, now it includes my friends and extended family in other states.
Now, reaching out more often and replying more frequently is a long-term goal for me, not something I can accomplish overnight. Because as of 1 month ago, I was probably the worst person in the world at keeping in touch. Or, I was at least the worst person at responding to people’s messages in a…timely manner. (An admitted character flaw my friends have all come to accept does not mean I don’t love them, it’s simply a side effect of not being an avid social media user.)
But now, I set aside time every couple of days to reply to messages or to reach out to friends and check in on them. Even if I don’t have the time, I will make the time.
And that led me to my second lesson.
It’s not that hard to make the time for things. And I’m applying this to more than just making the time to reach out to friends. For some of us, we’ve been given the gift of unlimited free time. I know, I know – gift to some, curse to others. But for the sake of this argument, let’s go with gift. For others, like myself, unlimited free time isn’t quite in the cards.
But regardless of which boat you’re in, you have the ability to make time.
One thing that I’ve been making time for is incorporating meditation into my daily routine. I realized shortly after my unexpected quarantine began that I needed something to keep my mind calm. I’ve been an avid news reader since this all began, and as such, I needed to find a way to balance out all of the negativity I was reading.
So now, every morning, I sit outside on the patio and meditate before I start work. I’ll admit, this one was and still is particularly hard for me, as I’m of the, ‘sleep until the absolute last minute, then sleep 5 more minutes, screw it today’s a ponytail kind of day anyways’ mentality, when it comes to sacrificing sleep. But what a great time to challenge ourselves to adopt new routines, right? Afterall, I’ve suddenly gained 30 minutes in my day that is no longer my commute to work.
I’m secretly hoping that this will stick post-quarantine and I’ll be one of those travelers who gets up early and starts their day at 7am with the free hostel breakfast and is on a tour by like 9am. It’s a lofty goal for me you guys, I’m not gonna lie.
But as a traveler, I’m constantly thinking about how my current life decisions will factor into my future travels. I can’t help it, it’s second nature to me. So everything I do now, I plan to try and continue on during my travels.
And that led me to my third lesson. Reminding myself, there will be an end to all of this. And when it ends, we all still have a future to look forward to.
It may look a little scary – okay, sometimes downright terrifying. It may be full of unknowns and uncertainties. And we may not even know when that future will begin. But it will come, and we will find a new normal to be happy in.
So for now, I’m going to keep doing things that will make that new normal a little bit better. That will make it a little more comfortable. That will make the transition a little smoother.
I’m going to make plans for that future. Something I touched on in the blog post, Tips for ‘Seeing’ the World From Inside Our Homes. I’m going to make the things I do with my time now, valuable to that time in the future. And lastly, I’m going to make the most out of the time we’ve been given now, because it’s not going to last forever. And though I don’t know that anyone will ever genuinely say, “I miss being quarantined,” I would be willing to bet, looking back, there will be some things you miss about this time. Family time, time to plan that next trip, that time you got to binge watch the entire Game of Thrones series again with absolutely no guilt? Yeah, those kinds of things.
So there it is, the unexpected path that started with missing my friends and somehow led me to realizing, eventually, I might actually miss some things going on right now, too. If there’s anything you guys can think of going on in your life right now that you might miss come the end of this crazy time, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Until next time searchers.