Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

Travel in the Time of Corona

by | Jan 26, 2022 | Society | 0 comments

The power of visual storytelling to heal our division

As probably many of you know, the South of the US didn’t experience the pandemic. It just skipped it there. That’s where the headquarters of the company I worked for is located. 

Obviously, the pandemic didn’t skip Atlanta, but along with their geographical position, the travel position was different than it would’ve been if I worked for a company located closer to where I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

I probably would’ve not traveled during the pandemic if I didn’t have to. I am lucky my company didn’t force me. We were allowed to travel if we felt comfortable with it, and I was the last one from my teammates who did it.

Eventually, I started doing it because I saw all of them traveling and not being infected; I thought that maybe there was a safe way to do it. 

I am what is known as a road warrior, a salesman who spends more than half of his time out of the office visiting clients.

So I started doing it. 

And it was weird!

It was weird to be out on the roads when no one was on the road; it was strange to be on a big plane with only three more people making five-hour flights; it was bizarre to be in paradises where you are one of a handful of tourist in places known to be jam-packed with white-walker-pale travelers with a wet white t-shirt, silly hats, and their face covered in Sun Bum sun protection lotion. 

I had a lot of anxieties before traveling again, but once I started doing it, I was fascinated to see how all states were handling the pandemic.

Over the past two years, I’ve completed a collection of travel and photo essays from domestic trips I’ve done during these times. I visited San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco, Orange County, Petaluma, Seattle, Atlanta, Oaklahoma, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Birmingham, Chicago, Kauai, DC, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.

Before the pandemic, this would have not even been considered a yawn-worthy travel schedule, especially since all of it was domestic travel.

But during the pandemic and given all the travel restrictions, not to mention the risk for infection, this was an exciting exploration of how our political bubbles shape our view of the world.

Yes, all states were handling the pandemic differently, from the most restrictive I saw being Hawaii to the loosest being Texas, where if you wore a mask, you were shot on sight.

Most importantly, I saw what we see on all of our social media platforms face-to-face. We live in a world of cynism. We are divided. We are fed the information that will keep us complacent snd compliant. We act out all that anger towards the other towards our neighbors, towards those who were our friends and relatives, but that thought different than us. 

We tell ourselves that this time this anger is justified, that this one cause really merits it. But it seems like we are moving from crisis to crisis with the same divisive and rotten rhetoric. The one that keeps driving that wedge of separation between our communities.

Connecting to our environment through photography and then using that photography to tell stories of ourselves, our environment, and our community bypasses or sidesteps everyone trying to tell us that we are at war. Instead, it creates messages of hope. It shows the world the things that make you and your community special. 

With that kind of understanding, we can start dropping our dogmatic partisanship and appreciating everything we all can bring to the table, creating a tomorrow that sidesteps media, politicians, and interest groups.
There is an incredible richness in being able to tell a story with a picture or a story essay. A picture is a perfect complement to a story, and it connects all of us to the different corners of a community.

Travel can be exclusive for the people with the money and time, but storytellers can broadcast where they live, and the experiences available there can help us connect.

I’ve used the photos to reflect on art-making, art appreciation, photography, and storytelling in the framework of current social issues, public discourse, and the pandemic. I’m compiling all these essays and calling them “Travel in the time of Corona” — a play on Garcia Marquez’ novel, “Love in the Time of Cholera.”

During these two odd years, I have grown to love how visual storytelling connects us with our environment and helps us make sense of the difficult times we live.

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