I could say that these are troubling times. We are in our fourth month of dealing with a global pandemic that does not seem to be easing. As a result of that, people are continuously required to make very difficult decisions relating to health and their exposure to the virus, in addition to financial, employment, education, socialization, and parenting struggles. Then, in May 2020, violent police and civilian encounter in Minneapolis set off social unrest centering around police violence and racism that bubbled over at a local and national level but quickly spread to a global level. I could say that these are troubling times.
But, to be honest, I feel that the precarious ways in which we operated and functioned as humans on this Earth always made all that we are currently faced with a real and inevitable possibility. And, to be honest, I, for months and months, felt this nagging feeling of “we cannot go on this way,” but was not ever really sure why I felt that way or what to do about it. I know, though, that I felt unsatisfied and uncomfortable with the state that we were in. We, as in humanity, seemed to be lulled into false senses of security all over the place. We seemed complacent. Adults were complaining about “adulting” and complaining about young people at the same time. Everyone seemed to be looking for ways to escape responsibilities, all while social injustices, such as inadequate access to healthcare, immigration issues, mass incarceration, economic and education disparities, and so on, because I could go on and on and on, (right?) -- all while these issues existed, in plain sight, for us all to see and not see.
So, I won’t say that these are troubling times. They’ve always been troubling times. I do think these are incredible times. Historical times. Pivotal times. And how can we not write about them? HOW?
I am in the midst of deep personal introspection, reading, and learning, communicating and discovering with others, sitting front and center, as I watch history unfold before my very eyes, while trying to understand and cope with my anxiety and fears around living, parenting, and loving through all of this. And my desire to grow and evolve and be part of the change and building of strength that will have to occur, in order for us to move beyond the pandemic and the social unrest has me writing like crazy. My notebook is about to burst. My writing ranges from angry unsent letters to notes about things I am reading to expressing fears to celebrating milestones and love. I am so aware of being alive and present and feeling every single emotion there is to feel and trying not to be overwhelmed by all of it. It is the rawest and the most honest and the most beautiful writing that I have ever done.
And because of all of that, it is exhausting. It is exhausting because of the volume. It is exhausting because of the tone and subject matter. It is exhausting because it calls on me to be fully adult, to put aside my playfulness most of the time, and to stay focused on these critical issues. But it is necessary work and it is necessary writing. And I am so aware of those who have come before me, whose notes and notebooks have provided all of us with rich stories and narratives that taught us such profound lessons. Here we are now, writing that, drafting those narratives, and writing those observations for future generations. Or maybe not. Perhaps our notes won’t end up in The Smithsonian, but we should consider that they are just that valuable. That our experiences and expressions matter.
My Traveler’s Company Traveler’s Notebook has been through so much. The edges of my black leather cover are showing signs of wear. The black leather doesn’t scratch and patina like the brown version of the same cover, but it does wrinkle and soften, showing its wear that way. I just added the JIYU insert. Serendipitously enough, “JIYU” means “freedom” in Japanese, which is more than apropos for me right now. I don’t know yet exactly what I will write in it, but I’ll start it soon because I think some chronological recording would be good for me right now. In order to add the additional insert, I removed my Travel for Life BK and Superior Labor wallet and replaced it with a thinner BKxTSL All Canvas Wallet to reduce the bulk and I love that, plus the one I chose is an orange and an aqua color, which both delight me. Sometimes we cling to the little things and those colors make me smile.
In all of this, during these INCREDIBLE times, I encourage you to challenge yourselves alternately with being gentle with ourselves. We can’t let ourselves off too easily, sticking our heads back in the sand, but nor can we serve anyone or doing any good with spirits diminished and deflated. My love to all, as you continue to write honestly of these times.