Dear World,

I had plans to see you this year.

It had been two years since I left my country- and you know how my heart longs for adventure. I set aside money, I researched a few of your captivating corners, and convinced my favorite people to come along. I raved about your whiter than snow sand beaches, the centuries-old castles that you preserved for us to explore, and the excitement that would be around every corner. I wanted to drink you in, to learn from you, and to allow you to introduce me to some new favorite places.

I didn’t know that this is how things would be - that this is how things could be. I never imagined a time in which you, with your vast lands and boundless novelties, would become eerily reclusive. A time when the asphalt of usually busy streets would scream of loneliness, when the cherry blossoms would bloom for empty apathetic sidewalks, when park gates would be locked up because even the baby swings could pose a threat. A time when tourist attractions that drew millions every week would lock their doors for months, when empty planes would sit idly waiting for passengers that would never come, when sporting events would be played in front of an audience of zero - or canceled altogether. A time when entire countries would close their schools, businesses, and all other everyday occurrences so that people would stay home, stay safe, stay alive.

It’s not your fault, of course. Things happen. And boy, did this “thing” happen.

Right now, you need to rest. We understand that and we’ll give you the time you need. Never have you rested quite like this, but we hope there is some purpose. Perhaps it’s so that we can increase our awareness and respect for you. When we’re unable to visit your stunning landmarks, enjoy your thousands of national parks, and take our time breathing in your fresh air, we realize how much we miss it and how much we need it. Perhaps it’s because you needed us to slow down - in more ways than one. In India, you needed the air pollution to reduce to show off the stunning Himalayas. In Thailand and Florida, you needed the beaches to be cleared so sea turtles and other marine species could multiply and thrive. In our homes, you needed us to spend more time together - to get to know each other better, to learn how to serve each other better, and to understand the depth of our gratitude for one another.

I hope we learn to truly appreciate the little things more - the comfort of an embrace, the joy of someone smiling back at you, the juxtaposition of the peace and craziness of normal life. I hope we appreciate each other more - family, close friends, neighbors, teachers, medical professionals, grocery employees, all employees, every person, everywhere. To recognize that we’ve always all been in this together - even though maybe we’re just now understanding that bond right now. I hope we appreciate you more- the opportunity that we have to travel, to learn, and to see how you help us create memories that will last forever.

In the meantime, we’ll do our part in staying home so we can see you again. And when we see you again what a beautiful day that will be.

Until then,

A friend