The only true freedom any of us have is in our thoughts
I've often mentioned in my talks and in my blogs how everything can change in a single moment. A lapse in concentration, a telephone call with bad news, a job offer, a baby is born. All life events that many are familiar with and, in the main, affecting quite a localised set of people in your circle.
And then there's this. A pandemic. This is what's commonly referred to as a Black Swan event, a total game changer that comes completely out of the blue. It's a course correction for humanity and with it brings massive change for everyone. But the human race has been here before.
As far back as you can look, disease outbreaks have ravaged homo sapiens, sometimes changing the course of history and, at times, signalling the end of entire civilizations. But they eventually ran their course and disappeared and so will this. All things pass, change is the only reliable constant. Of course the context is different each time. Never before have the mechanisms existed whereby we can mobilise billions of people to change the way they behave during a pandemic. Whether or not our actions helped or hindered the virus’ eventual extinction will be a matter for huge future debate.
The current situation has meant that we are being forced to adapt to a new environment quickly. But we are creatures of adaptation, if our environment changes so do we, it's part of what makes our species so successful. Some change is being imposed upon us, directed and regulated by government through legislation. It's the quickest and bluntest tool to alter societal habits - just asking people nicely to be sensible wouldn't incur the wholesale behaviour changes we're seeing. Some will argue this is an imposition on our freedoms. Some want more limitations imposed, there will always be more than one side to an argument. Other changes though are within our own purview, we can choose to stay in or go out. To meet people, to exercise, to hug, to use public services or to go get on our bikes and travel.
As touring motorcyclists with a passion for cross border travel many of us had to scrap our plans for last season and some for this too, although things are now coming back on line as I write. The company I tour guide for, Magellan Motorcycle Tours, had to take the bold decision last year to pretty much write the year off, although of course it was possible to self-guide. It's tough when the situation is so fluid and subject to various governmental and regional rules across multiple countries that could change on a daily basis. And of course all the businesses you rely on, the hotels and the cafe's and restaurants have their own battles they're fighting too. Yes, one thing is for sure, the landscape as we knew it has changed and perhaps for much longer than we ever could have imagined.
But wait a moment. What's really the issue here? Travel has always had an element of risk attached to it, there's the obvious risk of our chosen mode of transport, dodgy food, the weather, road accidents, unscrupulous people and the like. So it must boil down to what is an acceptable level of risk for you, and that is purely personal choice. While there are some things we still cannot do at the time of writing, there are a whole mountain more we can. We can adapt to our new environment, we can put in more back ups, make sure we follow safe practices, we can alter the original destinations, implement work-arounds. It's what our species does - we're born problem solvers.
The only true freedom any of us have is the freedom to choose our reaction to events. Covid-19 hasn't changed that one truism. The virus is a game changer, for sure, but we can choose whether it's game over or not. We can choose the extent of the impact to our lives. Often the most incredible things happen to us when we relax the reins a little and improvise. Take that passport out and give it a long hard look. Then spray it with some anti-bac and put it in your pocket. Whatever you decide, know that you can decide and that this day, like every day, you do have a choice. Sometimes you just need to throw in a dash of creativity and flexibility to get where you’re going. But, you know, you are free to do that :-).