• Cindy Mundahl

A Smaller World

I fell in love with traveling when I left home for the first time on my eighth grade class trip to Washington DC. I was immediately intoxicated by the new sights, sounds and experiences and seeing a world that looked so different from the one I was immersed in day after day. I love experiencing new cities, people and landscapes so much, that I’ve built my life around traveling, whether it be a short jaunt from home, or a trip to the other side of the world. I’m always seeking new adventures. I love the opportunity to taste new foods, learn the histories of foreign places and meet people I wouldn’t in my daily life. When the stay at home orders were issued two months ago, I found myself reeling after cancelling several trips my family had planned this spring and summer and grieving the loss of one of my greatest passions in life.

At first, these losses stung. I feared I’d not only lose a lot of money, but also several experiences that we were looking forward to for several months. I tried not to be hard on myself about the loss of money or for planning so many trips over a short period of time, reminding myself that I’ve structured my life to accommodate my love of travel and that I’ve made sacrifices to afford this lifestyle. I believe my ability to grant myself compassion for the losses, which in the grand scheme of life are minimal, has gone a long way in helping me move on and embrace the world just outside my front door.

As I move into the two month mark of quarantine, I find myself reveling in learning my neighborhood as if for the first time. I’m seeking adventures close to home in the form of new walking routes and experiences. This time has granted me a presence that wasn’t available to me when the world was much larger and more available to me. I took my own corner of the world for granted and glossed over its beauty and the gifts that lived so close to my home. I now know the exact day in May that the maple tree outside my front door lost its leaves and that I could see the blooms of new leaves forming the very next day. I know that wild flowers bloom by the swamp trail near my house in late April and that muskrats swim in the swamp near where the ducks nest, yet they all coexist peacefully. I have awareness of the lengthening of the days and gratitude for the extra hours of sunlight that seem so much more vital now that we are more confined to our homes.

Now that my world has become smaller, I feel a new contentment taking hold in me. Gone are the anxieties of travel, planning routes, finding lodging, and finishing up work projects to clear my calendar for travel. Now my biggest decision on most days is what time of day will I take my walk and which route will I take. The simplicity in this lifestyle is refreshing and feels necessary. Perhaps travel was becoming a habit for me, something I did because I’ve been doing it so long. I never stopped to consider if all of the adventures were really serving me anymore.

I wonder now if I’ll be eager to return to my wandering ways when the pandemic ends, or if I’ll be reluctant to leave the simplicity and newfound beauty of my smaller world. I have a feeling I won’t be in any rush to book my next flight, but I also know that my desires are very fickle during this time. Perhaps I’ll take a deep breath, exhale and let the breath settle before I come out of my cocoon of simplicity. Only time will tell.

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