‘Traveling’ during a pandemic

When the pandemic hit, my biggest regret was not traveling more. Looking back, I wish I had taken every opportunity to see the world and experience new things. There are so many places I want to see and cultures I want to learn more about.

During this time, I’ve had to find other ways to broaden my worldview and step outside my com-fort zone.

One of my favorite ways to “travel” is through books. I’ve always been a big reader. I remember sneaking Harry Potter books under my desk in grammar school (sorry to any of my teachers reading this). Having more time at home has given me the ability to read more than I could before. I read 81 books in 2020 and my goal is to reach 100 in 2021. I have been able to start writing and sharing more book reviews, which is something I really enjoy.

My reading has taken me everywhere from fictional lands to Regency England to Chicago in 2008.

There is so much to be said for taking a look beyond where we grew up. There is so much to learn from other cultures, religions and from looking back on history itself. We can learn from the mis-takes that were made in the past, gain understanding of the struggles of people different than us and use that insight to inform the way we live our lives.

Another way I’ve “traveled” during the pandemic is through cooking.

I’ll admit, I’m not a very good cook. I can make basic meals, but my favorite is the “just throw it all in a pan” method. If it doesn’t require a ton of preparation or clean-up, that’s a good option for me.

I have begun to look at entering into both reading and cooking as I would entering into prayer— with a steadiness and a reverence. Like time spent in prayer, each ingredient is meant to nourish my body and keep me healthy, each page is a salve to a soul that longs to be somewhere new.

Instead of viewing cooking as a chore that needs to be done, I’ve found it helps to view it as some-thing fun, where I can learn and discover new things—about food, but also about patience and the power of “letting it go.” Yes, I just spilled that flour all over the counter, but that’s okay. Sharpening my knife skills can be a way to sharpen my mind.

Entering into cooking in this way has also been a way for me to learn about different cultures. I typically enjoy Asian and Mediterranean dishes, so it has been fun to learn about what kinds of in-gredients are used in these dishes and why. At a time when travel isn’t possible, viewing cooking new dishes as a way to experience different lands and cultures has been a healthy respite.

So, during this Lenten season, I’ll continue to travel through books and poems, and I’ll work on the virtue of patience. There is something to be said for not rushing through the dinner experience, but rather savoring the moments of it—the good and the bad. The same goes for savoring a good book— really delving into the scenery and getting to know the characters. I guess the same could be said for life itself. Lent teaches us to wait, to prepare, to learn gratitude—and that life isn’t meant to be rushed through.