Will the Coronavirus change how you live? It will for me.
Emily Dickinson once said, “To close your eyes is to travel.”
I do not agree.
Staying indoors for the past six weeks, no matter how often I close my eyes, it’s just not the same. The beauty of Dickinson’s quote only seems to go so far.
When she was alive, the world was a “bigger place.” Pleasure trips were not a thing. Most people would never leave their hometown, let alone their state or country. You can’t just fly to Japan for a few weeks. Go nowhere was a very long and expensive undertaking.
And, as a recluse who rarely leaves home (she has left her hometown three times in forty years), perhaps using her mind to explore the world was probably the best for Emily to “see the world”.
But we live in a time when the whole world is our oyster. We can (or could, anyway) jump on a flight and visit distant lands at the drop of the hat. We can send SMS, call and zoom in real time from anywhere in the world. Travel has become so cheap and easy that we are concerned about the “over-tourism” of destinations. Everyone is on the road these days.
Our society is the most mobile and globalized it has ever been.
And yet these days, no matter how many travel books, movies, virtual museum visits and Zoom calls I devour, I still feel like a bird in a cage.
It is not that I aspire to travel. I had no travel plan until the end of May.
But I miss the outdoors, seeing my friends in person, glasses of wine at the restaurant and going to cocktail bars. I miss freedom. All my big plans for being at home, joining social clubs, taking gardening lessons and doing more are postponed.
Also, when I moved to Austin, I furnished my apartment so that it was not comfortable to work. I knew how easy it would be to work all day at home – and it can make you lazy and unproductive.
So I created a space that would be good for a few hours but that would then force me out of my house and into the world.
It was my insurance against my innate laziness because I didn’t want to be inside all the time.
However, I am here (we are all here).
There is a lot said about how coronavirus will change the way we live. A lot is said about how it will change travel. (I already shared my thoughts on this.)
As I watch spring bloom in front of my window and remember what it was like to hike in the mountains of distant lands, I can’t help but wonder if Emily would feel the same way of living in her house if she had been there today.
Being inside made me think a lot about the quote from Emily and about my own life and my relationship with the outside world.
Like most people, my problem has never really been “not having enough time” to do the things I wanted. I just used the time I had and I fell into “the busy trap”. Doing “stuff” all the time but nothing that really got me going. And, in truth, most of the “stuff” I did was either work or a waste of time online anyway.
But it took time and made me feel “busy”.
Now suddenly faced with all the time I would have always wanted, I find myself in my old ways – and even less motivated than before. I sleep longer, I eat less well, I am not motivated to go for walks and I spend a lot of time at my kitchen table at work or on social networks.
This reality came to me last week. With restrictions probably relaxed in a few weeks, I felt that the chance of having a reset had not been used wisely.
So, in an effort to make a change, last week, I started creating a semblance of a normal day by planning all. From sleep to reading, to eating to work, even on social networks, everything went into my schedule.
First, I wanted to feel motivated to get out of bed again.
Second, I wanted to see if I could learn to use my time better.
It turns out that there is a lot time in the day to whatever you want to do.
You can do a surprising amount of things in one day with a plan. I read more coherently and finish the online courses that have been lying around for months. I finally catch up with Schitt’s Creek (that’s great). I even spent time on “social media” so I could make sure that I still got my fix.
Before that, I moved a lot by inertia. My life was relatively balanced and, with enough to keep me busy and moving, I never had to wonder about all the plates I was turning. All the chaos is balanced.
But, now that the music has stopped, I can see that I have never been really balanced.
Everything I did was right moving.
I hope my future will read this post to me one day and say: “You kept it and found the balance.”
After all, we always say we will change, but we rarely do. Over time, we usually return to our old habits.
Humans are creatures of habit and we have short memories.
I am no different.
But I certainly don’t want to look back and say, “Well, past Matt, you failed.”
A crisis can be an opportunity. A chance to reset who you are and how you live. Being young and single gives me more time than others, but if I have learned something from my experience – and talking to my friends – small changes can produce big results.
You don’t have to change a hundred things in your life. Even doing one thing (planning for me) can produce a significant and positive change.
After all, time is really too precious to be wasted.
And I can’t believe it had to have too much the time on my hands to realize this.
Book your trip: logistics tips and tricks
Book your flight
Find a cheap flight using Skyscanner or Momondo. These are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the world, so you always know that no stone is left behind.
Book your accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com, as they always offer the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels. I use them all the time.
Don’t forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft and cancellations. It is complete protection in the event of a problem. I never go on a trip without it, because I had to use it several times in the past. I have been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that provide the best service and value are:
Are you looking for the best companies to save money?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when traveling! I list all the ones I use – and they will save you time and money too!