Taking a Moment

A former tour member and friend (the latter invariably follows from the former) just asked me how difficult my Romania tour will be. I started my reply with the medieval cobblestone streets, gentle Transylvanian slopes, and stairs of the palace, castle, and parliament that blends the two. But then, mindful of challenges tour members will be facing, and what they’re coming from, I ran into the bigger question.

An overpacked suitcase is a burden, but how strenuous is it to carry a global pandemic for two years?

Donkeys at peace with their burdens, Lamu, Kenya

This might seem unrelated, but when we travel, we take ourselves with us, our suitcases full of lightweight shirts, extra medication, and all the fatigue we’ve been carrying for longer than we want to admit. Good travel, good travelers need to acknowledge that. That question, that attention to how exactly this pandemic has felt, is crucial right now, as we perhaps move from the altered but now familiar world of the pandemic, to the unknown reality of the endemic.

For me, this moment is straddling a divide. On one side, the travel industry is extremely excited, anticipating a return to touring, teaching, and celebrating. We had a full-company zoom yesterday and I was astonished at how good the figures and prospects are. In less than two months from today, I fully expect to be on tour again.

But on the other side, I’ve been volunteering with disadvantaged communities where concern over the virus is still paramount. Vaccine cards are checked and masks stay on, even when we’re sitting wide apart from each other, outdoors. People who have endured too much, carried weights far larger than an individual scale, can have a hard time trusting the reassurances of authority.

Then the obvious next thought. We have ALL endured a burden too large for our individual selves to make sense of. So I’m taking a moment, in myself and on this page, to recognize that weight. You’ve been through it, reader! All those months of wondering when it would get better, followed by months wondering if it would ever get better at all. Worry for the kids, worry for the elders, worry for everyone in between. The gnawing concern for family and friends who seemed to be moving further and further away as the distances refused to shrink, the walls refused to come down. That’s real. And denying it isn’t going to help you sleep any better, or travel any lighter.

The signs of optimism and renewal are rising, but let’s take this moment to acknowledge the weight we’ve been carrying. It’s a wound, to have endured something like this. But it’s also an achievement. Give that care. And take that credit.

And maybe, hopefully, then we can heal, we can hear the optimism more clearly, and we can travel into this new stage. I look forward to seeing you out there!