Finding Our Joy Until We Can Travel Again

One of the habits I’ve adopted in this strange period we are living through is daily mediations through an app called Insight Timer.  I was perplexed a few days ago by a meditation about joy, led by teacher Carrie Suwal.  She kept repeating, “joy is not conditional,” but I’ve always felt the opposite, feeling joy triggered by something beautiful, like a flower. Or a work of art like a song steeped in memories, an incredible painting, or a play.  And in my favorite way: traveling in a special place.

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Our charming Roman Guy guide at the Colosseum in Rome.

I trust that teacher Carrie is correct, and that with a good amount of work, I could find myself achieving joy someday no matter where I am or what I’m doing.  But even though joy shouldn’t be conditional, it usually is. And so I’m having a good deal of trouble finding joy without being able to rely on the triggers that aren’t so accessible now and for the forseeable future.  And with rumors flying, like one I heard about international travel to Europe not being expected to return to normal levels until 2023, my personal need to build new joy triggers – and I imagine yours, too – is acute.
Luckily, joy slapped me in the face yesterday, in the best of ways, by a premiere performance by The Old Globe, which was only accessible for a short period due to contractual obligations. Which has inspired me to curate this list of ways for those of us that love travel – especially cultural travel, and traveling in Italy – to find joy until we become fluent in creating it for ourselves.  I’ve focused this list on people, places, and things that you might not have already been exposed to, imagining you’ve already heard about major cultural outlets’ offerings, like the much-referenced Uffizi virtual tour.

1. Teleport yourself to London in Shakespeare’s time by joining in on The Old Globe’s artistic director’s weekly celebration of Shakespearean sonnets on YouTube.  He’s a Shakespeare scholar and these weekly talks have been generating quite a buzz.

2. Take part in the Italian Renaissance with Renaissance art historian Paola Vojnovic’s talks, interviews, and master classes! I got to know Paola in the year I lived in Florence, and she is someone adept at inspiring joy.  Learn more about everything she has coming up here.  And if reading is something that gives you much joy, take a look at Paola’s book recommendations (scroll through the photos for titles) that will surely make you feel like you are in Italy.

3. Next, head over to Venice with travel writer and longtime Venice expert Monica Cesarato’s Instagram live series called #VeniceMeets, usually held on various days at 6pm CET, noon EST and 9am PST.  Learn more on Monica’s Instagram profile.

4. Travel throughout Italy via Italian cinema and the well-curated selections of the San Diego Italian Film Festival.  They are hosting regular virtual discussions, and give detailed direction on accessing a great selection of Italian film (all offering English subtitles) via various streaming services.

5. I’m new to the app, Steller, even though it has been around a while.  It is giving me much joy perusing the stories from faraway places, like the Netherlands, or places that feel a bit closer to some of us, like the Muir Woods. And finally, my first story about my favorite city, Bologna.

6. Finally, how about something as simple as finding a way to incorporate music into your life more regularly? I’ve decided to cut down on listening to news broadcasts, and instead, spend  more time enjoying my favorite music.  I’ve dug up old playlists and albums that I listened to during different periods of my life.  The songs transport me to nights in Bologna, long walks in New York, and parties in Pittsburgh.  I forget how much joy good music gives me until it becomes an important part of my life again.

While those are my current favorite outlets for finding joy, I’m so interested in what you’ve found that is making you happy these days.  Please do share in the comments section so we can continue to grow this list!  In the meantime, take care of yourself, and enjoy!

19 comments

  1. What a nice collection here, and I thank you for mentioning Steller — that looks like a fun app for virtual travel! The thought of not traveling internationally for a while does get me down as well, but I just keep thinking about how amazing it will be to actually be back some day, stepping off the airplane and suddenly surrounded by the different world of language and culture. Hopefully sooner that expected!
    I like your idea of cutting back on the news and incorporating more music — especially music that transports you to happy times and places in your life. Thank you for sharing, sending wishes for daily joy and delight in the ordinary. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for reading, Stacy, and for your thoughts. It is always so nice to hear from you. 🙂 You’re so right, it will be extra special when we finally can travel safely again. Hoping upon hope that it will be sooner than expected. 🙂 I saw you on Steller! I hope you’ve found some cool stories. Totally, music is something I forget about till I really need it. It has been such a pleasure enjoying old playlists. I hope you’re well, Stacy, and busy discovering your joys from home!

  2. xcdrew says:

    I love this post! I used to meditate more often than I do now and realized it makes a positive difference when I am able to take the time to do so. I keep telling myself that I’d make the time to doing daily meditations, but it is sometimes hard to put time aside for it. I am usually happy in general without waiting for triggers. Some days not so much and look for conditional joy. Some outlets for me are dancing and watching movies/shows.

    • Thanks so much for your kind comment, Andrew! I totally understand. We have routines and busy days and incorporating something else into the day isn’t the easiest. But if you know what makes you happy, you’re already ahead of a lot of us. 🙂

  3. Miriam says:

    These are wonderful ways of finding joy Peggy. Thanks so much for an awesome list of ideas. I’ve been part of a Mindful in May program this month, meditating every day and practising mindfulness, and I’ve absolutely loved it. It’s helped ground me so much. I’ve also found a lot of comfort and joy in music. Recently found Hauser and Senorita, who are spectacular together! Stay well. 😊

  4. Miriam says:

    These are wonderful ways of finding joy Peggy. Thanks so much for an awesome list of ideas. I’ve been part of a Mindful in May program this month, meditating every day and practising mindfulness, and I’ve absolutely loved it. It’s helped ground me so much. I’ve also found a lot of comfort and joy in music. Recently found Hauser and Senorita, who are spectacular together! Stay well. 😊

    • I’m so glad to hear it, Miriam! You’ve seemed very happy in your posts, which makes me very happy. So it seems your practice is helping. 🙂 I’ve been meditating, but I should also do a regular gratitude practice and be more diligent about mindfulness. I need to just adjust the flow of my day. I’d stopped some of my practice because I felt I wasn’t being productive enough with my other activities, but perhaps I could just do my journaling at night. Anyway, thank you for being so supportive and reading and your lovely words. So glad you’ve found comfort and joy in music. I’ve heard joy mentioned so much lately. It is so important. Stay well in your beautiful fall days! 🙂

      • Miriam says:

        Thanks Peggy. Yes, I am happy and I’m not quite sure why, amongst all the uncertainty out there. Maybe it’s just that I feel a certain pressure has been lifted and it’s actually okay to slow down. In the past we’ve always had to “do”. I think I’m just allowing myself to “be”. If that makes sense.
        Journaling at night is a great thing to do. It grounds me even more and is a great self reflection tool. Hope you can find what works for you in these unusual times. Stay safe and well Peggy and be happy my friend. xx 🙏💙

        • That does make a big difference. Your words ring very true, as I think I’m feeling a bit of loss in not having major daily tasks and commitments. Some of it is good, and some of it feels like a loss. I like work and I miss meeting friends. But now is just a different way of being. I will work on getting myself back into the flow of now. That will help. Thanks for talking with me about it, Miriam. :-*

          • Miriam says:

            That’s ok and I know exactly what you mean. I miss my friends too and that sense of purpose and flow. These restrictions sometimes feel like an ache. But I hold onto hope that this is temporary. 🙏

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