KEEPING MY SANITY WHILE SOCIAL DISTANCING BY “TRAVELING DOWN THE MEMORY LANE”
How my Lust for Wander is helping my Mental Health during this Pandemic Outbreak
After around 8 airplanes, 7 taxis, 4 trains, 2 public buses, countless tuk-tuks or autorickshaws, bicycles, miles of traveling by foot, and multiple hotels/hostels/guest houses, I am ending my backpacking adventure….
I know what some of you are thinking right now. Why did this idiot of a person decide to backpack during the Coronavirus Global Outbreak? Is he for real ? Please, do hear me out first because what I am trying to say is that I am ending my backpacking adventure of October 2018 from the North to the South of India and to Nepal with a stronger and renewed spirit, vigor, and optimism to any forms of life and humanity in general. Like most of you, I am also cooped at home practicing social distancing. And the statement above was from my Social Media posting on October 26, 2018 while waiting for my plane back to New York City in Chennai International Airport, India after almost a month of backpacking.
I decided to write this article during this COVID-19 Pandemic outbreak while practicing Social Distancing because I would like to share one of my strategies that is helping with the current state of my Mental Health . Being socially isolated for a prolonged period of time can take a huge toll on someone’s Mental & Emotional Health. It can lead to that feeling most people call “cabin fever.” Especially if you live in a city like NYC where almost all residents don’t have the luxury of having their own private backyard, even a space big enough to help combat the daily blues of being locked down.
Nowadays, it can be taxing to look for ways to appropriately deal with the challenges of being socially isolated for an extended duration of time. The level of stress can pile up because of the added anxiety of figuring out how to deal with our New Normal (socially, economically & emotionally just to name a few) . Social distancing can be really difficult. However, on top of not making the outbreak much worse, staying in and slowing down can be an opportunity for us to reconnect to ourselves and perhaps redefine our life’s new meaning. It can be working on a new skill, trying a new hobby , maybe meditation, binge watching all your missed shows, reading books, working on a vision board project, taking online classes and tons of innovative, artistic & creative outlets and ideas .
For me, one of the strategies that I have been doing to keep my Mental Health intact as humanly possible is what I call my “TRAVELING DOWN THE MEMORY LANE” visualization technique. I consider myself a BONAFIDE WANDERLUSTER. I LOVE TO TRAVEL ( i.e., backpacking). For me, it is such an important part of my being. Traveling provides me the opportunities to have a sneak peak of the culture and traditions of the places I venture to. Discovering the beauty of what our world has to offer is a priceless experience for me. Because of my travels, I was able to look through the beauty and nuances of humanity.
And traveling actually did play some role on my decision to take a Leap of Faith and leave a fulltime career in healthcare in order to produce a documentary film entitled FollowLeadLOVE . Because of traveling, I continuously discover the richness and diversity of what our World has to offer as well as the contradictions, subtleties and diversity of humanity and I just can’t get enough of it. FollowLeadLOVE in a way will relay a message that encapsulates that.
How my “TRAVELING DOWN THE MEMORY LANE” strategy is helping me cope with the negative psychological effects of prolonged Social Distancing? Well, I incorporated one of the therapeutic tools I learned while practicing on areas of Psychosocial Rehabilitation as an Occupational Therapist, which is visualization technique. This technique if appropriately use can help those who are dealing with psychosocial issues. I did a little bit of modification to its concept and used some of its components with my “travel down the memory lane” strategy.
However, please note that each and everyone of us do have different pathways in dealing with these uncertainties. This strategy I am using is my way of sharing what is helping me. And if by sharing this will end up becoming beneficial to others, then I will be happy knowing that I have made my contribution to help ease the burden to some. Just as the same to those who think that this technique is not for them, no hard feelings here for I am still grateful that you took an interest in reading this article. Again, I would like to put an emphasis that dealing with Mental Health issues should be on an individualized basis for it is vital to know what works and doesn’t work for every person.
Every morning inside my room, the first thing I do is making sure that there will be neither visual nor auditory distractions. Then I start by sitting up straight, look out my window, feel the fresh morning breeze going through my skin, slowly close my eyes and gently breathe in/breathe out for approximately 2–3 minutes. Once I feel more centered and present, I will then start imagining myself about to go on my backpacking journey . As I continue usher myself on a specific joyful feeling based on one of my travel experiences, I will then start focusing towards an emotional state of “I am about to go on an amazing adventure.”
When I’ m backpacking which has been mostly just me. I try to go solo because, for me it is more convenient and I don’t have to deal with conflicting or different agendas. In that way, I can maximize my adventure and that actually provides me so much opportunity to be friends and be acquainted with the locals or other backpackers. But, I’m not saying that it will remain that way since the only constant here in this world is change. I just need to find the right person to go backpacking or go on an adventure with. A partner to whom I can mutually share the joys of traveling regardless of our differences for we share the commonality of love and living. Alright now, I need to go back to the topic at hand and not go on a full segue on discussing my aspiration for a lovelife, being betrothed or marriage. That’s a different article in itself and maybe sometime in the near future.
Now, let’s go back to the intended topic. I usually try not to plan my day on a strict regimented schedule which is totally different ballgame when I am usually on work mode. I look at backpacking as an opportunity to rekindle my spirit of wonderment. Usually, I’ ll have general idea as far as where to venture. But, the minute I get to that location, I will try to immerse myself on the local scenery, and even at times intentionally getting lost. I follow where the locals go and try to really enjoy and absorb as much as I can their culture, norms and traditions. For me, there’s something wonderful and euphoric about the feeling of being free and being unapologetically part of the fabric of every foreign localities that I venture to. By doing this, I have learned so much about the real essence of each locales I have visited (not the touristy version) and I have met so many amazing people from all walks of life that I still keep in touch with. It provides me the rush of optimistic energy knowing that I am present and in the moment. It also gives me that feeling of excitement and the thrill of trekking into the unknown.
Back to my room…I imagine different areas of my 10x12 sq ft bedroom as different places that I have traveled. Sometimes I visualize the right corner of my bed as being the hustle and bustle of a train station in New Delhi. At times, the spot where I placed my vision board as Auroville, India where I am one with nature just feeling its serenity and solitude. There are moments that I imagine all the images reflected on my mirror as local products being sold on the busy market in Cairo, Egypt. I sometimes visualize my bookshelves as an ancient place in Ephesus, Turkey with tons of wisdom, learning and history unfolding right before my eyes. Heading to the bathroom sometimes I imagine that I am going to the Island of Comino in Malta or even a trip to the fridge can evoke trekking in Nepal.
The most important factor for this strategy to work for me is the fact that I actually have traveled to all those places I am visualizing. That provides me a more objective and tangible feeling as I practice my “travel down the memory lane” visualization technique. Being able to use and derive real emotional components to this strategy plays a vital role in helping me realize the intention of being taken on an “adventure” the best possible way.
But, one thing is for sure, I haven’t gone bonkers. I am cognizant of the fact that I am still socially distancing in an apartment in New York City. That the concept of reality versus fantasy is pretty intact and definitely not blurry. I am very certain that I am not suffering from any types of hallucinations and I have not been ingesting substances that will render me to be on a mandatory 72 hour observation in a Mental Health Facility. And…YES I am fully aware that injecting disinfectant in your body is lethal.
When I decided to try my “travel down the memory lane” visualization technique, It dawned on me that perhaps I am not the only one trying this strategy to help cope with the anxiety and stresses related to being quarantined and going through prolonged social isolation. I’m pretty certain that there are other ones out there who are doing the same thing I am doing. So, I decided to start a “ ThrowBack” travel blog and utilized my Social Media platforms to document not only my travel experiences but also virtually reach out to other fellow wanderlusters. Because, by doing so we can maybe collectively cope and help each other out while going through this unprecedented uncertainties by sharing our travel experiences amongst each other. And maybe extend it beyond us by welcoming those who would like to join us on our “virtual journey.” On March 15, 2020, I started my Social Media travel blogs and here are some of it:
03/15/2020- Remembering my last trip to Auroville, India. Visiting the Sadhana Forest . “ Sadhana Forest India focuses on reforesting 70 acres of severely degraded land with the indigineous TDEF (Tropicla-Dry-Evergreen-Forest). The TDEF is on the verge of extinction as only 0.01% of what used to be a vast forest currently exists in small patches in South India. Sadhana Forest India has been accepting volunteers from the day of its establishment in 2003. Since then it has served as an educational volunteer experience for more than 5000 residential volunteers.” (source: https://sadhanaforest.org/india/ )
03/16/2020- Pyramid of Giza Egypt & Evita Peron’s museum in Buenos Aires, Argentina
3/17/2020- Elia Beach in Mykonos, Greece & Valetta, Malta
03/18/2020- South of India, municipality of Villupuram in Tamil Nadu . I was fortunate and very lucky indeed to spend a day with these 3 gentle giants and help take care of them. Elefriends101 is a dedicated elephant care facility located in Tamil Nadu, where they rehabilitate sick and neglected elephants. Their Mission is to provide a loving, safe and secure environment for the well being of elephants where they are free to roam, socialize, bathe and feed without undue human interference as nature intended. *video link : https://www.instagram.com/p/B939I05AfiA/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
and…Mount Rushmore National Park in South Dakota
03/19/2020- Going on with our traveling down memory lane, next stop…Curaçao . I have met so many kind & wonderful people on my trip here and we still keep in touch as much as we can . The photo I just posted is the famous Willemstad’s Handelskade Street, lined with sherbet-colored homes that resemble Amsterdam row houses.
and… Azores, Portugal
03/20/2020- Osan, Korea & Okinawa Japan
03/22/2020- Pisa, Italy
03/24/2020- Holland, Netherlands
and…For my next travel down memory lane posting. I would like to pay homage to the city that welcomed & accepted me for who I am, a city that’s been with me through thick & thin for the past 12–13 years, a city that will prove over & over again how resilient it will be, a city that I am proud to call home..NEW YORK CITY . I know that my fellow New Yorkers will get through these uncertainties with renewed pride & vigor.
03/25/2020- Being able to commune with nature and its glory helps reinvigorate my mind, body & soul. That is why my next travel down the memory lane posting will be when I trekked somewhere in Kathmandu, Nepal .. Keep it coming with your travel through time photos/videos that help reinvigorate your physical & mental well-being.
and…We are back with our travel down memory lane. We will be staying in Nepal . But this time we are heading to Bhaktapur , Nepal, “ Bhaktapur is the third of the valley’s medieval Newari cities, the other two being Kathmandu and Patan. It remains the best preserved of the three, despite the damage of the 2015 earthquake. The ancient city centre is car-free, making walking its cobbled streets very pleasant indeed. “ (source: @intrepidtravel ).
03/26/2020- I got “leid” for our travel down the memory lane we are heading to Hawaii. Photo was taken at a luau event Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie .
and…Aloha ! Let’s stay in Hawaii for my next travel down the memory lane posting . This time we are heading to Ko Olina on the island of Oahu . Btw, My father, mother & I immigrated to Hawaii from the Philippines when I was still a kid . That is why this state does hold a special place in my heart . How about you? Any special place that brings back good memories ?
03/27/2020- Sevilla, Spain
and…Paying homage to my fellow brothers and sisters in the Air Force , this next #traveldownthememorylane , we are heading to Colorado Springs, Colorado specifically at the Air Force Academy.
03/30/2020- Azure Window in Malta. I was fortunate enough to have witnessed its majestic view before it collapsed in 2017.
03/31/2020- A market in Cairo Egypt by the Nile River
04/01/2020- We are back with traveldownthememorylane , we are going back to India specifically a place that I miss so much…Auroville, India . One of my absolute favorite places to visit and stay. This place meant a lot to my spiritual growth.The photo I posted is the Matrimandir -‘soul of the city ‘ located at the very centre of Auroville. It’s a place for trying to find one’s consciousness in silence and concentration.
04/02/2020- Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, Island of Alcatraz, San Francisco Bay Area, California
and..It’s time for another round of #traveldownthememorylane . In October of 2018 I backpacked from the North to the South of India and also in Nepal. And one of my stops was Bodh Gaya. It is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage destination in the world.
04/03/2020- Hello, it’s time once again for our #traveldownthememorylane, this time we are heading to Ephesus , Turkey . Photo was taken when I was touring the site of Ancient Ephesus, while I was sitting on an ancient toilet and while looking at the ancient sign Caduceus, a symbol for medicine. Shout out to all healthcare workers !! And to all our brave HealthCare Workers out there, I dedicate this post to you
and…Montego Bay, Jamaica
04/06/2020- Amsterdam, Netherlands & Island of Comino in Malta ; (video link for Island of Comino: https://www.instagram.com/p/B-p_OkLgKSp/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link)
04/07/2020- Rooftop Party at The Standard Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, California
04/08/2020- We are taking a sleeper train for this posting of #traveldownthememorylane . You can see some of the sceneries when I took a 16 hour Sleeper Train ride from New Delhi to Gaya via Poorva Express . It gave me such an amazing perspective on humanity at its best.I believe that if you’re up for some delightful fun and knowing how diverse India ,the best way to see it is not on a plane but at ground level via Indian railway system. **video link for train ride: https://www.instagram.com/p/B-ufSigAwDW/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
and…For today’s last posting of my #traveldownthememorylane this photo was taken when I graduated as a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader with Nikhil Taphar as the instructor. I took the course to one of my favorite places to visit Auroville, India . I’m telling you it was really a fun course to be certified literally. The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. One gets the same physiological and psychological benefits.
04/09/2020- La Concha Resort in San Juan, Puerto Rico
and…Ready for another round of #traveldownthememorylane ? Why not from Puerto Rico let us all head to Paris, France. Photo taken in front of Notre Dame Church. I was fortunate enough to have seen it prior to April of 2019 when the church was ablazed.
04/10/2020- Kusadasi, Turkey is our next destination for our #traveldownthememorylane . I remember the weather while we were approaching its harbor that early October morning…slight breeze with that dewy look and feel, there’s something blissful about it.
04/14/2020- In front of Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, Argentina
and…Grindavík , Iceland where I spent half a day at Blue Lagoon and I remembered it being therapeutic and rejuvenating.
04/15/2020- Around Civic Center Area in San Francisco, California
and…From the west coast we are heading back to the east coast for today’s last posting of my #traveldownthememorylane . This is a photo I took back in the days when I used to live in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC . This is the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. I like walking around that area and have some quiet times to myself, observe people and sit to the park nearby ( such a New York thing to do that I know some of us miss doing)
04/16/2020- It’s time for another round of #traveldownthememorylane . I decided to hop on a “virtual “ airplane and head to Luxor, Egypt.. Photo taken right in front of Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut . This Temple Honors the Egyptian Queen Who Ruled as King ( talking about #femaleempowerment ). Hatshepsut’s temple is one of the world’s most captivating masterpieces. She was one of ancient Egypt’s first female pharaohs ( #womenpower ). Her mortuary temple was strategically placed on the west bank of the Nile next to the Temple of Mentuhotep II to reinforce her position among kings
04/17/2020- Venice Italy
04/20/2020- London England ( in front of the Buckingham Palace)
and…Mellieha, Malta for our next #traveldownthememorylane . Specifically at the Golden Bay . I remember feeling the serenity while looking at the sunset and an amazing way to end my day.
04/21/2020- We are back on our #traveldownthememorylane , this time we are heading to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I remember this picture taken right before parasailing . The feeling was a combo of excitement & nervousness, lol . Traveling is such an important part of our lives. It gives us a sneak peak of the culture and traditions of the places we venture to. I myself can’t wait to go traveling again. How about you ? Where do you want to go next and why ?
and…Kathmandu , Nepal to a town called Pharping . The photo posted are Nepal prayer flags which everything right from the colour to the words on the flags has a deeper meaning. These prayer flags essentially carry our prayers via the wind to get them answered.
04/22/2020- Heading back to Auroville, India for another round of #traveldownthememorylane . Photo taken at Center Guest House where I was staying. I have been to Auroville twice and stayed there for almost 2 weeks every time. I love what it stands for, it’s vision and it reinvigorates my mind, body & soul. I miss it & I intend to visit again & again. “There, work would not be a way to earn one’s living but a way to express oneself and to develop one’s capacities and possibilities while being of service to the community as a whole..” an excerpt from A Dream by the Mother
***Special posting to celebrate Earth Day : Happy Earth Day everyone. Amazing quote from the founder of Earth Day Senator Gaylord Nelson , “Our goal is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all human beings and all other creatures — an environment without ugliness, without poverty, without discrimination, without hunger and without war. Our goal is a decent environment in its deepest and broadest sense.”
and…To further honor Earth Day , we are staying in Auroville, India. Every morning after eating breakfast with the sun just risen, I trek through pathways around Auroville that don’t get a lot of foot traffic which is a lot of. I like the feeling of serenity, solitude and just have nature as my only companion to start the day. The first Aurovilians who arrived 50+ years ago saw a barren and eroded plateau and collectively started its reforestation. Now, Auroville is a 5000 acres of green and lush forest. A town designed to resist the lures of inequality, to love planet earth and to respect Mother Nature. (video link :https://www.instagram.com/p/B_TSxWDgmqH/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link )
04/23/2020- From Auroville, India , we are taking a “ virtual “ plane to Athens, Greece for this round of #traveldownthememorylane . Fortunate enough to actually have stayed where every morning I can head to the rooftop, savor the majestic view of the Acropolis of Athens and imagine its legacy and history.
and…Join me once again to #traveldownthememorylane . We are taking another “ virtual “ flight to head to another ancient village in Egypt , Abu Simbel . I remember looking at this site and really savored its breathtaking craftsmanship and grandiosity.
04/24/2020- Ankara, Turkey
and…a Special Post: WHEN WE CAN TRAVEL AGAIN…COMING SOON !! Details on DESTINATION VACATION PACKAGES !!As part of Additional Incentives/Rewards Program by helping us complete the SOCIALLY & CULTURALLY relevant documentary I am currently producing FollowLeadLOVE . THIS IS OUR RENEWED CALL TO ACTION . COLLABORATION. PAY IT FORWARD. POSITIVE RIPPLE EFFECT . Partnering with other SMALL BUSINESSES affected by this Global Outbreak because WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER!! (video link: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_X691lgfs4/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link )
We cope differently on different tragedies. During this Global Pandemic caused by COVID-19 outbreak, one of the strategies that is helpful to me is incorporating the positive components of my travel experiences ,my backpacking adventures and my overall lust to wander. This method of taking myself within the positive emotional state connected to all my travels, is one of the beneficial tools that is helping me feel less angst as a result of prolonged social isolation. It does help keep my sanity intact while dealing with the variety of anxiety and stress inducing elements as a result of this crisis . Using my “travel down the memory lane” visualization technique helps keep my Mental Health at bay. And having to put the platform of social media to good use via “virtually” sharing my throwback travel blogs to my fellow world journeyers, does make it easier to deal with the struggle of being on a sort of “solitary confinement.” That on a Global Scale, I can actually reach out, be part of and share my travel experiences to my fellow wanderlusters. Because of my lust to wander, I am able to keep up with my sanity in the midst of uncertainties. PROVING THAT I AM NOT ALONE .
I may not be physically traveling and viscerally not on those places that I had an amazing adventure. However, the essence and core being of the continents, countries, cities , towns and villages that I have visited will always remain with me. Deep in my heart, I already know that once our new normal way of living fully starts and WHEN WE CAN TRAVEL AGAIN, my level of appreciation to our world and to humanity will be much deeper and transcendently more meaningful . I am indeed blessed to have been to places around this beautiful planet of ours and I can’t wait to resume my travel adventures. But for now, I will see you as we virtually “TRAVEL DOWN THE MEMORY LANE. ”
8 airplanes, 7 taxis, 4 trains, 2 public buses, countless tuk-tuks or autorickshaws, bicycles, miles of traveling by foot, and multiple hotels/hostels/guest houses… A NEW AND EXCITING JOURNEY HAS JUST BEGUN…
About the Author:
Brian Rubiano will be making his film producing debut to a documentary entitled FollowLeadLOVE under a Small Business/Independent Multi-Media Production company he co-founded Transend’Daens . He is also the company’s Director of Business Development, Creative and Collaborative Strategies. Brian is a proud World Journeyer, US Air Force Veteran, Licensed Occupational Therapist, and a member of Actors Union (SAG-AFTRA and AEA). He is also the Post-Production Producer for both the feature documentary film Amy’s Victory Dance and the short film Dark Matter under SpinKick pictures with Brian Thomas as Director.
Brian Rubiano’s documentary film producing debut FollowLeadLOVE is a Fiscally Sponsored 501 ( c) (3) project via Fractured Atlas and currently accepting Tax Deductible Contributions to help complete this SOCIALLY & CULTURALLY relevant project. For more behind the scenes video/photos and to get to know more about the film’s main subjects as well as the production crew , make sure to follow its Instagram page @followleadlove
You can also follow him on:
Film Freeway https://filmfreeway.com/BrianRubiano
For more of his published articles , click on this link: