I don’t know about you, but the last few months have been a roller coaster of emotions. Some days I feel great, like I can handle everything and find joy in the small things, and other days I feel like the world is crashing down. I have come to a conclusion that is OK. Part of what is going on is that I am grieving. Grieving the loss of a sense of normalcy and security, the loss of the ability to move freely, the loss of my sense of place and time. It is not human to be happy and balanced all the time, and especially during this time when life is turned upside down for so many people, being able to feel the loss is important..
Luckily I have gained some tools to help me manage my emotions and keep a sense of balance and peace, and most of them are related in some way to travel. A quick side note, I do understand that there is immense amounts of suffering going on globally right now, and the idea that I can mourn the loss of a trip or dream about traveling again does put me in a place of privilege. I want to acknowledge that and encourage others to be able to acknowledge this fact while still caring for your own sense of loss.
For me some of the ways that helps me deal with my sense of loss and the restlessness that comes from not being able to travel is diving deep into those emotions and understanding why I’m grieving the loss of travel. The other part of the coping looking into the future and hoping that then when the time is right, we will be traveling again in a safe and healthy way for the travelers and local communities as well. Below are just a few of the ways I work through my grief while also staying connected to my travel practice.
DREAM NOW. TRAVEL LATER.
The Planning Process
Even during a quarantine and global pandemic, we can always plan our next trip in our minds! I find that the energy I spend planning, researching, dreaming, and learning is a valuable investment in my mental health and sense of peace and balance. I can bank vacation days and make spreadsheets and research locations I have never been, and when I do that I feel more connected to myself. Even the simple thought of waking up in the morning with no agenda, complete freedom, and a beautiful world to explore is enough to change my whole mental state.
It’s More Than A Trip
For me traveling is more than seeing sites, it is a time when I can connect with the world around me. No agenda, no time frame, time to connect with the people you meet, time to connect to yourself, and be apart of the this big world around you. Without that outlet right now I find myself turning inward and needing an outlet more than ever. When I take time to think about my travel practice and what it bring, I can try to find something in my daily life that feeds that hunger. When I can find those connections I feel more able to be balanced and optimistic about how things will turn out.
For me when I travel I truly disconnect from any electronics, emails, or other distractions so I can recharge an immerse myself into the moment. That mental freedom is something I crave and need in my life. With what is going on now I am grieving the loss of my ability to dive deeply into a travel experience, and it is hard to replace that. Taking time to make fun plans for things like watching sunsets and getting outdoors helps me to look forward to some disconnected time.
Studies have shown that some people have a “travel gene.” Researchers have found that 20% of the population have a variation on the DRD4 gene, and anyone with the 7R variant has a high predisposition to be ‘restless and curious.’ This speaks to me, I have a drive to not sit still in one palace for too long. After a month or two at home I want to be on the road again, or in the air moving, seeing and exploring our world. Obviously this is a challenge right now, so expanding my mental movement has been important. I need to spend time dreaming and thinking of the future, reminiscing about the past, and keeping connected to that sense of movement.