"If you follow your truth down the road to peace and the affirmation of love, if you shine like a beacon for all to see, then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation, a world community, and a Beloved Community that is finally at peace with itself." ― John Lewis
Because my regular polling site is just across the street, I waited to vote until this morning and was done safely casting my ballot while practicing patience and social distancing alongside my neighbors. And now... Good luck, America! On Sunday amongst Quaker Friends, I heard the above quote by the late John Lewis, from his book, Across That Bridge, and it touched all of us and brought us into a deep silence. To me, it sounds like a prayer for our nation, now and in the coming days.
I've been imagining how the future might look and surprised myself realizing how much about life in this moment I'll actually miss after we emerge from these days of expanded time, solitude, reprioritization, restructure, and reexamination of purpose. These past months distilled my thoughts, actions, dreams, and relationships down to the most essential for my well-being, without distractions. This illuminated something very important to me. When I was living a wonderful, culturally and socially active life in New York City, I'd grappled with a question I conjured sphinxlike one day but could never answer to my satisfaction. Is there a real difference between happiness and pleasure? I had an abundance of pleasures in my life, and while I felt happy and satisfied, this question would still float to mind. How many of my sources of pleasure were distractions from things that bring "true happiness," and was there a difference, one that I could discern? My personal conundrum came about because my passion and career focus in the performing arts and travel industries are filled with events that are just so pleasurable like awe-inspiring cultural awakenings inside a theater or off exploring another country.
I feel closer to an answer to this question than I ever have before. I've learned the essentials I need to keep happy because I've eliminated almost everything else from my life. I've also seen how many activities I find pleasurable also bring authentic happiness because these are the things I still long for without any abatement over time. I miss theater and specifically my ushering side gig at Theatre for a New Audience so much because it encompasses so many things that bring me joy: working with a fun, diverse, and fantastic team; helping excitedly curious people safely experience a shared event; and attending masterful productions over and over so many times I can recite entire plays by the end of a run. And I miss being an audience member whose presence, applause, and laughter help kindle a performance that illuminates a text before my eyes.
My desire to travel is also only growing stronger. Traveling to breath in new smells of native trees, flowers, rivers, terrain, salt air, and various aromas of foreign dishes, bakeries, and city cafes. Traveling to feel the freedom of anonymity and endless, unscripted possibilities. Traveling to see places I've only read about in books. Traveling to the homes of the people who wrote those books. Traveling to see the ways people are so different and also so alike. Traveling to view favorite artwork, hear new musical sounds, and find new artists to admire. Traveling to learn. Traveling to grow. Traveling to become a better version of myself.
If you ever question if the arts and travel are superfluous, this pandemic proves how essential they are to any recovery ahead. A huge percentage of any country's GDP and workforce is tied to the arts and travel industries that fuel local economies. There's more than one way you can vote and vote often - by voting with your wallet for the the kind of world you want to see thrive. Support local arts organizations that mean the most to you. Book future travel to locations where you want to make a massive, positive impact with your tourism dollars. I'm your advocate and work with trusted suppliers with flexible, risk-free policies. You'll have trip insurance quotes too, which is standard practice with Nine Muses Travel.
The arts and travel are both passions of mine that yes, bring great pleasure. Now I know indisputably they bring me happiness too, because my life doesn't feel whole without them. Do you feel that way too? Then let's have some fun planning ahead for future trips, future pleasures, and future happiness!
I design journeys that inspire by highlighting local arts and culture, history, and cuisine for intellectually curious clients longing to feel deeply inspired by exciting destinations, culinary delights, and authentic cultural experiences on a life-changing, joyful journey of discovery.
President of Nine Muses Travel