As we all try to reflect on the changes that our world and lifestyle are undergoing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we at MeetnGreetMe find it very important to listen to your personal stories in order to learn from each other, sympathize with each and learn together. We asked our dear MeetnGreeter, contributor and an avid photographer Justin Walls to share his thoughts.
Imagine hiking along a mountainside in the wilderness, only to find yourself exhausted gasping for yet another breath of the purest air you ever inhaled, as you decidedly seat yourself and rest in a shaded area beneath a tree. Imagine leaning your body backward against a comfortable nearby rocky outcrop, while redirecting your attention toward the sound of a powerful waterfall crashing below you, and suddenly your eyesight refreshes you with the exact beauty that’s depicted in the photograph above. Now imagine yourself in a world with an ongoing coronavirus pandemic. You’re in the same place.
With all the recent lifestyle changes we have undertaken, to hideaway in our homes or behind our masks, we must not forget that we coexist not only with other people but also with other living organisms and natural environments that have flourished amidst a time of anxiety for humanity. From societal lockdowns and international travel restrictions to an assortment of social movements and uncertainties about the future, an interconnected and justifiably concerned world has distracted us from a way to escape from it all – to reconnect with and explore the outdoors, taking on an entirely new kind of adventure.
Every photograph you see here was captured without interacting with another person, and without taking a step on foreign soil. No matter where on Earth you reside, you can still explore magnificent phenomena and learn from numerous cultural impressions within your own nation – and you can live to tell the tale about it. At present you may experience difficulties in visiting museums, restaurants, zoos, amusement parks, or stores willing to sell you a winning lottery ticket, but traveling does not necessarily have to involve spending money on activities just because everybody else is doing them.
Even during these unusual times, there are ways for you, your friends and family members, and anyone else in your local community to discover the unknown and appreciate what’s learned, all while creating everlasting memories. There are all types of places you can visit free-of-charge while limiting social interactions, with little-to-no risk of contracting the coronavirus disease from another person: large outdoor parks and wilderness areas, lesser-known lakes or unpopulated beaches, wild caverns and grottoes, often-overlooked archaeological sites or abandoned ruins, lava tunnels or ice canyons and other scenic landscapes, and so much more.
Now is the perfect opportunity to take on activities you’ve never tried before, and otherwise charter unfamiliar territory around you: why not find out how fascinating shipwreck snorkeling, building a sandcastle, or skipping rocks across a pond can be? Where else can you witness the contributions of your ancestors than at the ruins of a nearby historic settlement or underappreciated cave art sites and burial grounds? What better way to reconnect with nature than by growing your own food, stargazing from inside some hot springs, or hunting for shells and shark teeth along a beach? How could you ever pass up the opportunity to bicycle through a valley, embrace the awe of a geyser, or cook and dance around a comfortable campfire?
While not all these options may be available to you, your imagination and sense of adventure certainly ought to be! Honestly, who should know your local area better than you – and what better person to make your life much more fascinating, than yourself? Nobody! So, search far and wide, online and offline, until you find yourself … living, laughing, and loving to travel again, coronavirus-free. Who knows, maybe you’ll even become more knowledgeable and better prepared to show any future visitor(s) around, the next time you decide to meet n’ greet one.
About the contributor: “Justin Walls claims he’s not much different than any of you – he’s imperfect, a little worried, but especially ready for this coronavirus pandemic to become yet another memorable story in our shared human history. But after residing in or visiting 25 countries and all 50 of the United States in his humbling 27 years alive, he wants you to know that this life and its purpose will only ever become what you make of it, with the help and influence of those who preceded and coexist(ed) with you.”
In case you are planning a trip to the US and a helping hand of a local, Justin will be happy to help you, feel free to contact him here.