Lately there has been quite a bit of talk about traveling from your living room, eating your way around the globe from your kitchen, experiencing the world in a video, in short knowing the joys of travel while we stay at home. The ask is that we fulfill our desires to travel while sheltering in place, while under COVID-19 restrictions. While I do appreciate the enthusiasm and the let’s all look at this as the glass is half full perspective, and not usually one to be the Debbie Downer, those of us that are in our hearts a traveler find it a poor substitute. Perhaps even a dismal substitute. After all it’s the process of going and being there, anywhere, that is what we crave. The chaos of a new place, the blissful confusion of a new language, the foreign smells of new foods, the beautiful lines found in new faces are all elements of getting lost in the sensory overload know as travel, and the wanderer thrives on the bedlam. From the misadventures that starts seemingly the minute you walk through the over processed air of an airport, we are in our happy place. We are not creatures of daily routine, we are creatures of chaos theory or the seemingly random occurrences which create interconnectedness. This is the key, interconnectedness. Our differences bring us together, and we know this. Curiosity propels us forward, brings out our brave and begs us to seek more. The more we seek, the more we learn and know and understand. Cultures offer insights into humanity that you simply can not know intimately from the TV or iPad. Traveling is truly one of the greatest means to get to know your fellow humans, opening your heart and mind to differences and seeing those foreign worlds as germane, equal, and fabulous, because it’s while we are in those new places we feel our most vulnerable and as a result more accepting. Something the world definitely needs more of right now.
As we all strive to understand exactly what is happening to humankind, and these seemingly random and challenging events continue to well, challenge us, dig deep and consider the butterfly effect. That butterfly flapping its wings in China, may not bring the hurricane, it may bring a tide of change that after this storm has passed, we find a new clarity and deeper understanding for all cultures and people. A simple lucidity that most will be able to grasp from the comfort of their couch, and perhaps it will instill a desire to know more and travel and in turn connect.
I may already be suffering from a wee tequila head which has put my mood a few tics south of my usually charming self when my mother calls. “I just went to the store to pick up toilet paper and they were out.” she told me with a touch of humor and incredulity. This took a second to register. She laughed and went on to say that my father had called and asked her to pick some up, and the shelves were bare. What? Wait, what? We’re not in a major urban area. No one expected this little corner pocket town in the mountains to suffer from the coronapanic that is apparently spreading across our nation in seemingly direct proportion to the cases of COVID sufferers in each state. We laughed about it for a minute and decided that TP was probably the last thing on our minds if it came to that, she can always river wipe… yet this is our current reality. Priorities people. We hung up and I headed out to grab some milk on my way home. You already know where this is going.
It’s 3:00, not a busy time to shop, but the store was packed. Maybe early spring break shoppers? Mostly unfortunate because I try to get there before the crowds. I strolled down Produce grabbing arugula, basil, some garlic. Just what I need for the night. I got my milk, the shelves were plenty full. I see a sale of my favorite KIND bars, bought a few dozen. Grabbed eggs and out of morbid curiosity strolled down the toilet paper aisle. Empty. Are you kidding? It really was. Cleaning products are bare minimum, flu medicine down, tissues down. Forget about hand sanitizer. I walked over to self checkout and got so caught up eavesdropping on the cashiers talking about the store imposing limits on how many you can buy the next day when the shipment comes in that I forgot my damn eggs. People really have gone mad. Are we preparing for the zombie apocalypse? You’ll be germ free, but you’re gonna get hungry.
The reality is that whether it’s the media or our fellow humans, we’ve created our own nightmare. Do you hear that? We are doing this to ourselves. I understand it’s fairly easy to not get a twinge of panic when you hear other people are panicking. There’s probably some scientific phenomena that occurs in this situation. Panic breeds more panic, but let’s look at this for a minute. We all know the facts. You can’t possibly not know the facts at this point. We all have the map of the slow spread of doom permanently etched on our brains. It’s only killing those that would be hit hardest by the flu as well. You can have it weeks before you know you even have it so wash your hands- a lot. (Buy some lotion to counter the horrible dried hands that are happening here) Don’t touch your face. Social distancing, etc. So why the hell are people hoarding toilet paper? That’s insane. We’re hearing this everyday and not just because of our current “leader”, things have become like some loopy version of Upside-down Day. We’re living in an alternate universe.
So, as yet one more writer’s plea for sanity, let’s all take a deep breath. Really. It’s going to be OK. Remember that thing about love thy neighbor? Well, if you can’t muster love, for the love of all things good, have a sense of humanity. Be a decent human being. Do your best to not get caught up in this tidal wave of mass hysteria. Be reasonable. You will likely be inconvenienced, but not forever. Personally, I have coffee, wine and KIND bars. I’m set and will be happy to share my toilet paper if need be, and should a zombie actually show up at your door, feel free to comment below and tell me, I told you so.