The Pandemic Exploration You Need To Try Out (I Am!)

The Pandemic Exploration You Need To Try Out (I Am!)

One of my fondest memories - hiking with friends near Durango, Colorado

No matter where we are, the pandemic has deeply impacted every molecule, being, person, you name it. Some have been hit harder than others. Some can barely stay afloat amidst growing stressors and responsibilities. Others are benefiting from slowing down and a moment to catch their breath after too long on the busyness treadmill. Or maybe you’re experiencing a dull sense of boredom – that’s where I’m at.

It’s been almost 17 months since I last opened my MacBook to let my stream of consciousness flow. 17 months since I felt called to empty some thoughts across a piece of virtual paper so I could open up some space in my crowded mind.

As I reflect on the travels that led me to 25+ countries (solo, with a tent, with a good friend, you name it) I feel a longing that only comes when I can’t do something. The kind of wanting that an errant teenager gets when she wants to stay out past 10PM and then wants it even more when her parents say it’s out of the question.

I used to talk about my travels as the most thrilling, inspiring, spirited, and even instructive times of my life. Certainly as educational as college (sorry, Mom!). But reflecting back on almost a year of quarantine, I now think of the pandemic as similarly life-changing. I’d even say the past year held more reflection and self-inquiry.

I’ve learned more about myself in the past 12 months than in my 22 years. Not because I was hitchhiking, trying Singaporean Hainanese chicken rice for the first time, or hiking my way up a glacier in New Zealand. But because I was forced to stop. To think. To write. And frankly, there was nothing to do but be alone with my thoughts. And I don’t want to romanticize or simplify – I saw more boredom and emotional reckoning during this time too.

purple flowers in green vines with leaves
Noticing little things on Morning Walks

This is all to say that my travels taught me so much about what it means to be an independent person. A fearless 19 year old discovering herself, while not quite realizing how much energy she spends running from herself. Don’t get me wrong – when it’s safe, I’ll still be the first person on that plane someplace new.

But for now, I’ll stay here and learn something. Because staying put, planting seeds, putting down roots, and figuring out what’s going on in here is a whole other ball game of a journey. 

More later & much love,

Jessie

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. mom

    What a thoughtful soulful and artful piece of reflection. There is as much learning from the boredom, quiet reflection and pandemic losses as from the other forms of exploration. We can find meaning no matter what is going on in our lives. Thank you sweetness for sharing.

  2. droy

    Exciting to see your update.

  3. Tracy grant

    Tom and I sometimes refer to the go go go lifestyle as “running from the abyss”, but you make a good point noting that it is also sometimes running from ourselves. I’m glad the quiet reflection has felt so productive (in addition to sometimes just boring!). Thanks for sharing 😊
    -Tracy G

  4. Lisa Chason

    Hi Jessie, I came across the link to your blog on FB, and I so enjoyed reading about your travels! I tend to remember my students as they age the were, the last time I saw them, so it is quite a reality check when I see or hear news of where they are in the world. YOU, are really in….and around the world! I too believe that the education one gets from traveling, is
    truly unique. If you have not heard of The Camino trails, they are a beautiful set of hiking trails that connect from town to town, in many areas of Europe. Do check it out. I walked part of the Camino Frances trail in Spain a few years ago, solo, and fulfilled a long held dream! It is something I will never forget.
    Happy planting seeds, and Happy travels, when you get back out there.
    Lisa Chason

  5. Carole Shiber

    This is great to read…that you’re allowing all that is, especially the bored feelings. just letting them be. staying with yourself, because it’s all there is, not being able to be distracted or outwardly engaged is so good to know, especially at your age. It will be good to bring that quiet self with you when you can venture out again. I’m looking forward to it myself, bringing a fatter, wider, more still, leaner, happier self wherever I go now. Well put…so good to observe yourself and grow there, especially because it’s NOT exciting. But essential!!! I find your words and blog inspiring. I’ve also just started a new line of tote bags, and would be a great place for me to start a blog on what we tote! (inside and out) Love, Carole (your Mom’s friend)

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