Through the Eyes of an Educator: Lessons in hope & patience–waiting for travel to return

by Stacey Ebert / Mar 01, 2021 /
Stacey Ebert's picture

In the United States, we’re now officially entering the 12th month of the global pandemic. It’s probable that even if you’ve been living under a rock, in some way or another, your life has been affected by COVID-19. This past year, we’ve been living under a microscope. It’s definite that there are extensive differences stemming from choices to living arrangements, restrictions to pre-existing conditions, urban, rural, rich, poor, ability, mobility, access, discrimination, and more–but for everyone, whatever it is, there is something that hasn’t been a thing that you really want to be a thing again. 

Talk about lessons in hope and patience. 

Woman sitting on a bench under a tree, looking out at the water. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: Lessons in hope & patience–waiting for travel to return

Our students have been managing their own level of waiting. For those used to being in a brick and mortar space, the pandemic has removed much of what makes up the other bits of a school experience–and like their teachers, they want it to return. While we can’t, nor should we, dismiss the ick our students are feeling, we can, with compassion and care, still try to embrace today’s experiences and look to those of tomorrow. Like all of us, there are moments we want to huddle in bed and hang out in our blanket fort, and others when we’re ready to take on the world. 

That ebb and flow is normal. 

The discomfort and dis-ease we’re sitting with during this unprecedented time is normal. Working on our hope and patience doesn’t discount today, yet it does allow for appreciation of what is, gratitude for what we still have, and hope for what’s to come. This is how we learn and grow–this is how we make it up that last giant hill of the hike.

Since all of us have lived in the age of post-1918 pandemic, we have to believe that life will reappear again soon. It may take months–years, even–to reemerge from this epic event that will most certainly leave an indelible mark in our memories, but it will be back. I’m certain we will travel again, we will journey again, we will use our wayfinding skills, and discover new things about ourselves again. Until then, we’re testing our patience while we wait for travel to safely return. 

Being grounded all this time has brought clarity. As an avid traveler, it’s conceivably possible that while I’m regularly grateful for all the gifts travel has given me, perhaps I didn’t take into account all of the feelings that are even bigger than those momentous gifts. Ask any traveler what have you learned through travel, and you’ll get a litany of answers, each more impactful than the last. For now, we’ll keep tapping into that patience gene (of which I was definitely born without) to remind us of those travel lessons, remind us of the feelings evoked through travel, and relish the fact that while we don’t yet know when, we know we will travel again.

I don’t know about you, but during these 12 months, I have felt like my patience has been tested, strengthened, frustrated, stretched, tested, and tested again. While it falls into a myriad of different categories, the global community is together, waiting for things to return, and trying to manage, strengthen, and rely on our patience until it does. In all of our patience and adapting, we’re realizing that there’s more than food, culture, hugs, and experiences that we get through travel–there are feelings that come with every part of it all...and that’s what we have to work on evoking again. 

Those feelings are bigger than travel. Those emotions can be tapped into to refresh and restart ourselves amidst this long, dark time of waiting, hoping, and working towards that day when there will no longer be a global pandemic. Think: what does travel evoke for you? Consider the steps of dreaming of a trip, researching, planning, deciding, booking, looking forward to, packing, more planning, getting there, arriving, experiencing, returning, unpacking, reminiscing, and any extra phases you incorporate. What feelings arise when focusing on those words, those steps, those actions? How can we teach our next generation of travelers about those bigger feelings and the larger impact that travel has on each of us, and utilize those strengths to work on our lessons in patience and hope?

Let’s travel dream together. Consider a few months after the pandemic ends. Medically and socially, it’s safe to gather and hug again. You’re ready to hit the road. Where are you going? Who are you seeing? What are you planning? What do you hope to experience? How many sleeps till your adventure? What makes you excited about this journey? Consider the feelings that come up when talking about travel: what do you feel in your body, mind, and soul? Harness those feelings, embrace that rush of serotonin, and use it to propel yourself forward. 

Just yesterday, I quite literally allowed myself to travel dream for the first time since what feels like forever. I found myself checking driving distances on Google maps, seeking photos of a new beach, reading details of a different National Park, and wondering if it could be possible that sometime, perhaps, even before the clock strikes 12 on the 31st of December of 2021, that an adventure could actually happen. My whole body smiled. There were tears in my eyes, happy tears, when I found myself hopeful for travel again. Lifted from another day of repetition, I felt reinvigorated, reenergized, and renewed with a different kind of hope, a different kind of patience–this time telling myself that, thanks to medical and scientific brilliance, there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

We’ll get there, together. Our hope will continue to rise, our patience strengthened, and when we get to head out there together, back into the world at large, we will be ready to continue to step forward with hope and patience renewed. Our students will continue to flourish and thrive. We will move forward with that grateful heart, renewed spirit, and armed with greater strengths than when we began this journey. Onward.

Men on stilts with fishing nets at ocean's edge. From Through the Eyes of an Educator: Lessons in hope & patience–waiting for travel to return

5 ACTION STEPS TO CULTIVATE HOPE AND PATIENCE 

Travel dream, travel plan

Give yourself permission to tap into those travel juices and marinate in their goodness. Consider health and safety precautions, take humanity into consideration, include your comfort level for the time being, and dream away. The social and emotional developmental growth and hit of serotonin that can come from activating the hope gene is vital. We need to dream, we need to hope, we need to use our abilities to see that there will be a tomorrow–and when we’re ready to launch out of our own four walls, we’ll be ready with open hearts, curious minds, and a fortitude lifted from our personal work.

Work on lessening the need for instant gratification and reaction

Remember when we used to go to stores? Well, that quick hit of the chocolate bar at the register is that instant gratification. Today, it’s that extra addition to our Target cart or the need to return that message on our mobile phones the nano-second after it pings us with a message. Perhaps it’s adding meditation to our repertoire. Perhaps it’s focusing on counting to ten before we hit reply, pausing to collect ourselves before immediately responding to someone, or making ourselves sit still for an extra moment before running to our freezer to break out the ice cream. Regardless of how we test our own patience, the idea is to test it. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, inhale, exhale, and then respond. That action of response instead of reaction is a game-changer. 

Practice gratitude seeking

Become a gratitude seeker. While it’s possible that at this time what you can see in the world is outside of your window and through your computer screen, we can still be gratitude seekers. Look for the good, look for the beautiful, look for the kind; embrace the positive that comes from that inspiration. Be awed by the butterflies and the hummingbirds, relish the coming of Spring, find yourself in tears at the seemingly endless parade of acts of kindness around the globe. These emotions elicit hope. The uplift, the positivity, the upturn of our lips–focus on it, practice it. We need it now more than ever. 

Look forward

The last many months may have felt darker than others in our lifetime, but the sun will shine again...it will. The lights will return to Broadway’s Great White Way, fans will return to the stadiums again, and the hoards of smiling guests will crowd the streets of Disneyland and watch as Tinkerbell lights the night sky to set off an array of colourful sparks above. While it’s been a bit difficult to often slog from one day to the next, looking forward reminds us that there’s good to come. Hugs will return–we can look forward to that. Gatherings will return–we can look forward to that. Perhaps not today, and not tomorrow, but it’s coming, and our forward thinking will boost us towards a beautiful tomorrow while never once taking for granted the experiences of today.

Manage the waiting period

Sure, in the beginning, we heard two weeks and shortly realized that was not to be the case. The waiting period has become far longer than expected, but we’re in the home stretch. 

These lessons of patience, while not at all how we’d like to learn them or test them, are life skills that will carry on far past the end of the global pandemic. 

Learn something, take up a new skill, teach someone else a new skill, exercise, walk, play, read, rest, watch, chat, care for, cook, bake, color, dream, work, study, snuggle, build, create, or sit with the waiting period–and faster than you can blink an eye, we’ll be on the other side. The hill at the end of the hike is always the hardest, but the view from the top is always worth the climb. Challenge your angst and up your patience game–it’s a life skill from which we can all benefit.

 

 

Stacey Ebert, our Educational Travels Editor, is a traveler at heart who met her Australian-born husband while on a trip in New Zealand. Stacey was an extracurricular advisor and taught history in a Long Island public high school for over fifteen years, enjoying both the formal and informal educational practices. After a one year 'round the world honeymoon, travel and its many gifts changed her perspective. She has since left the educational world to focus on writing and travel. She is energetic and enthusiastic about long term travel, finding what makes you happy and making the leap. In her spare time she is an event planner, yogi, dark chocolate lover, and spends as much time as possible with her toes in the sand.

Check out her website at thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com for more of her travel musings.