During the Covid 19 crisis, when people are dying of this disease, it seems selfish to even think of traveling. The right thing to do is to stay at home right now. But for some of us, we are at home where ever we find ourselves in the world. So although I am confining myself to the address on my driver's license, there are many other places I long to be.
I also feel at home in Semuto, Uganda; Petchabun, Thailand and Rurrenbaque, Bolivia. As well as places I have never been but only dreamed about.
This virus has stolen so much from us. Including the chance to travel. And the pain is real.
We expected to spend our retirement travelling. And for people of our age, it feels like some of the best days of our live are being stolen from us. My son reminded me that many young adults will have their careers disrupted by stay at home orders as well as the economic crisis which is sure to follow. Children and post secondary students are having their schooling disrupted. Two things are sure: that this will eventually end and that no one that is old enough to remember it, will ever forget it. The great pandemic of 2020.
It will certainly be year before we know the full affect of the pandemic on our world but I can already feel how it has changed me as my expectations and reality for this fall diverge. Let me explain.
I expected by now (mid-October) to be thoroughly miserable. I expected to have run out of things to do (all my boxes sorted), to have had winter steal cycling from me (an activity I have come to love), and to be missing my friends whom I prefer to see only in an outdoor space.
It snowed today with more to come but even though that has forced me to cancel my weekend birthday bike ride with my friends, I am not devastated. Somehow I have adjusted and I like the person the pandemic has forced me to become.
I find myself frequently in a moment of deep mindfulness. It is like being submersed in the moment. There is no place to go and no escape so my mind just floats in it. There is an overwhelming sense of acceptance and it feels a bit like tunnel vision. Except I am focussed only on the moment.
I have experienced this before. I remember one time very distinctly. My daughter was sick and throwing up in bed. I was holding her hair back so it did not get puke in it. This was about the sixth puke session that same night and it was starting to get light outside. We were both exhausted. And suddenly a feeling came over me. The feeling that this too will pass and that I will never have this exact moment again. So I completely surrendered to it.
Surrender is such a beautiful feeling. So although it took a pandemic to make this a regular feeling in my life, I am grateful for it. I am grateful too that I am able to summon it easily now, in my life and in my relationships and I chose to make surrender my new normal.
We struggled with the decision to travel to Myanmar. It was at the height of the world coming to know about the human rights abuses of the Rohingya people by the Myanmar government. Should we be boycotting Myanmar? Would we be in physical danger by going there? Could we get caught in a cross fire? We decided that tourism would likely be down and so it might be a good time. Also we were not really convinced that our personal boycott would improve the situation in anyway and decided to go.
We travelled for about 3 weeks. After landing in Yangon our first stop was Mandalay. We then took a boat to Bagan, flew to Inle Lake, then enjoyed a few days on the beaches of Ngapali before wrapping up with a few days in Yangon. We had hoped to travel down the panhandle of Myanmar for a few days, but the travel is by bus and we did not have enough time.
Having travelled extensively in SE Asia we expected Mandalay to be a bit touristy but it was not. On our first day there we were followed to lunch by a young man who desperately wanted to be our driver. We agreed to go with him that afternoon.