We’re 11 days in to the new year, but it doesn’t feel like a new year. It feels like a continuation of 2020: B-A-D bad.

I might want to go back to 2020, actually.

Well, before January 6, I kicked off the new birthday list with a trip to Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto, Japan. A virtual trip, through AirBnB’s online experiences. For $20, the personable Lee, a Kyoto resident, showed me and five other people on a Zoom call some of the forests and shrines of Fushimi Inari and gave us a quick overview of forest bathing and meditation.

It was so nice to talk with people from other parts of the world and see images and videos of a beautiful foreign place. As someone who loves to travel, I’m tired of being so shut off from the world. This was a quick and easy way to satisfy some travel longings.

I have found such solace in nature during the pandemic, and Lee reminded me of the importance of stopping and listening to the sounds of nature. He also said that he uses sweeping as a form of meditation, which I found interesting and am going to try. There is WAY too much noise and sadness and madness in the world right now, and it is more important than ever to find time to quiet the mind.