I’m an eternal optimist. With a stoic mindset and an unwavering sunny disposition, I always find a ray of light in every dark tunnel. And, even as coronavirus continues to inflict its own brand of terror, I remain calm, lighthearted, forward-looking and at peace. In the age of uncertainty and anxiety, my optimistic outlook is, no doubt, my best and only hope for survival in the dystopian reality created by the global pandemic. And, I had developed this skill thanks to the world’s greatest teacher: Mother Nature
When news of the pandemic broke out, I knew I had an edge over this bizarre and contagious virus. Mother Nature, after all, has warned and prepared me for the coronavirus pandemic. With her infinite wisdom and enigmatic training, nature has equipped me with the tools and knowledge to face the adversities in our new world.
From patience to building a more positive outlook, the wilderness has taught me a plethora of valuable life lessons.
And as I sit in quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic, I can’t help, but recall the happy outdoorsy moments and realize how nature’s lessons have helped me endure this pandemic.
Here’s how my hikes and dates with nature have prepared me for this seemingly hopeless global pandemic.
Finding light in every dark tunnel
The world will never be the same, after the coronavirus pandemic.
Social distancing will be the new normal. And, hand washing will be as crucial as breathing.
No more friendly handshakes.
No more insanely wild parties.
And, no more social gatherings.
But, this “new normal” or reality, in the aftermath of coronavirus, won’t shake me to my core.
For years, hiking and nature have taught me how to adapt to different situations and unforeseen changes in weather.
And, more importantly, nature has taught me to embrace the charms of every new situation.
In the wilderness, Mother Nature’s mood can quickly shift from bright and sunny to gray and gloomy.
One minute the heavens are bright and crisp blue, and the next minute, they open to release a sea.
And, every time I find myself in the middle of a downpour outdoors, I just blithely splash through torrents and across muddy trails.
I soak up the moody and foggy beauty of the mountains, and I listen to the soothing ambient noise of water droplets.
And, oftentimes, I’m rewarded with a stunning view of a rainbow or a rare appearance of the natural phenomenon known as the “sea of clouds”.
Most hikers don’t like the rain, but there’s a world of beauty waiting if you embrace it.
The coronavirus pandemic is just like a tough hike with endless rain.
And, there are two ways to deal with coronavirus, the lockdowns and its aftermath: you can either embrace it or act like a whining bitch.
As tough the quarantine months have been, there are charms and perks to it, just like hiking in the rain.
For one, most of us finally have the chance to spend quality time with our family.
For some, they use their downtime to learn a new skill, expand their knowledge or rediscover their talents.
And, best of all, the coronavirus lockdowns have given Mother Nature a much needed breather from humanity’s nonstop abuse.
There are a lot of things you can learn and discover as we wait for the coronavirus vaccine and cure.
Pick up a book.
Venture into a new hobby.
Learn a musical instrument.
The universe holds infinite mysteries, and we can’t unlock some of them when we are too busy with our daily grind.
Embrace the new reality and discover some of the universe’s mysteries.
Coronavirus is just another mountain to climb
I don’t see coronavirus as my final destination. To me, it’s neither a stop nor the end of a glorious journey.
Instead, I see it as a stumbling block, a challenge, or a steep, perilous mountain to climb.
Hiking, like life, has so many challenges, from bumps and bruises to treacherous paths. But, as long as you keep on moving, you’ll eventually get over the hump and conquer the tough mountains.
Shit happens in life and hiking. That’s not rocket science.
The only way to overcome the madness is to survive and keep moving on.
Just take one step at a time, or in the case of the coronavirus pandemic, take one day at a time.
What’s more, these challenges will make you stronger, wiser, and even help build a stronger character.
Dealing with uncertainty
A lot of people ask me what’s the hardest part of hiking. Although images of grueling climbs over vertical cliffs come to mind, the hardest part is, in reality, taking the first step.
Hiking, especially when exploring an untrodden path, can be a pretty nerve-wracking experience.
Not only is it a test of mental and physical health, but it’s also full of uncertainties.
What happens if we get lost in the wild?
What if we couldn’t catch a ride to the highway from our exit point?
And, what if we find ourselves at the heart of a marijuana plantation?
How can we complete a hike without having a clue of our exit point?
Sometimes, I ask myself why I’m spending my time exploring the unknown when I can comfortably have a blast at a seaside resort or pool.
But, once I take the first step, my nerves get calmer. With each kilometer, my confidence grows.
I have no idea what the day brings, and I learned to be just fine with that.
The worst thing about the coronavirus outbreak is the uncertainty.
No one knows how long the lockdowns will last, who the coronavirus will affect, or when a reliable vaccine will be available.
Truthfully, I don’t think a person like me will ever be totally comfortable with the unknown. But, at least, nature has taught me to be somewhat comfortable in uncomfortable situations.
I believe people are stronger than what they think
From time to time, I let enthusiastic and willing first-timers join my nature hikes. And, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing them complete the hike, despite the medley of tough challenges.
Some people don’t know how strong they are. And, sometimes, it takes a leisure activity like hiking to make them realize that they are capable of surviving hardships.
Heck, I know a lot of beginners who are now certified trail runners and major climbers, after joining one of our hikes for a cause.
As it turns out, it only takes a small spark to unleash their potential and talent.
And, the coronavirus, like hiking with nature, is urging people to use their untapped potential.
It’s pushing them to their limits, and forcing them to be creative to survive in this situation.
From regular employees, I know a ton of people who are turning into entrepreneurs and gardeners due to the coronavirus lockdown.
I trust the ability of humanity, and I know we can beat coronavirus if we use our potential.
Endurance and leg strength
When I was 19, my father gave me a gun and car. To everyone’s surprise, I turned down these presents.
I always believe that words are more powerful than a flurry of bullets. And, though I’m no Nostradamus, I knew that one day a pair of legs will be more handy than a car.
Besides, Cebu was becoming a driver’s nightmare with traffic congestions getting worse by the year.
So, I developed a stronger pair of legs, increased my stamina, and hiked tons of mountains.
A few weeks after the enhanced community quarantine began in my city, our local government opted to create a vehicle coding scheme for its residents.
That means some vehicles are not allowed to travel on certain days of the week.
And, with public transport temporarily suspended, it became even more difficult for some residents to run their errands.
It wasn’t a nuisance or a problem for me, though. On the contrary, I cherished the opportunity to walk in my hometown without the whizzing motorcycles and never-ending traffic.
With a healthy and strong pair of legs, I walked for miles every week, from our humble abode to the nearest business centers, to shop groceries.
With a full 40-liter backpack, I come back home loaded with a week’s worth supply of food and other essentials.
Even with the sun’s fury, I had no trouble getting back home carrying a heavy load.
And, did I mention that I learned to pack effectively because I hike and explore the wilderness often?
Filter out the negativity
For the first three days of the quarantine period, I watched news on local TV, hoping for any positive sign.
On the fourth day, I turned off the TV, and instead, listened to a blend of alternative, jazz and classic OPM music.
Additionally, I unfollowed people who were panicking and spreading negative vibrations on social media due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The problem with our culture today is that we focus on the negative stuff. Admittedly, some of the news sources today are credible, factual and unbiased.
But, they mostly display things that cause panic and anxiety, because let’s face it, negativity and terrifying news equal profits these days.
Negativity captures the attention, gains views and sells merchandise.
There’s so much clickbait and fake news now because people focus on anger, negativity, controversies and failure.
That’s what we want to see.
Being negative is cool.
Ranting is cool
Bashing is trendy.
Today, all the hateful moments and the negativity are highlighted and celebrated.
That’s why I had to filter people and news out.
The thing is, negativity and being bombarded with news of the coronavirus have led to anxiety and depression.
Coronavirus destroys not just lungs, but it also breaks us down mentally.
Thankfully, though, nature has taught me how to filter out the negativity.
In the outdoors, there’s no room for complaining or panicking.
The more you complain and fill your mind with negative thoughts, the longer your hike will be.
The truth is, long hikes aren’t always butterflies and sunny skies. There are challenges and hardships that will push you to your limits.
It’s painful, but it’s also a pleasant experience, especially when you reach the summit or when your happy hormones are released.
And nature has a morphine to help you cope with the pain of walking endlessly: happy thoughts.
I’m a bona fide introvert. And to me, one of the most alluring and tantalizing perks of exploring the wilderness is the thought of being far away from a ton of people.
Although I never hike solo, there are plenty of stretches wherein I’m alone, especially when we’re exploring offbeat and untouched trails.
And, since my small group is a mixture of fast-paced trail runners and chill hikers, we usually are a few meters apart from one another in the wilderness.
Sometimes, I find myself over a couple of hundred meters ahead of my hiking buddies. And, in some cases, they are a dozen meters ahead of me.
Going on hours with little or no contact with people outside my group has taught me how to be comfortable being around with myself or just a few humans.
To me, it’s an exceptional characteristic to have as we distance ourselves from our society for the upcoming months.
Teamwork in the time of Coronavirus
I wouldn’t have discovered mountains like Bungtod Talinis and Panas without Beboy’s sense of direction and relentless adventurous spirit. And, we wouldn’t have made it to our final destination without Tatay Raul’s uplifting words and sense of humor.
Of course, there’s no way we could complete the whole adventure without Dian’s accounting skills.
Teamwork is the key to our exploration hikes.
We have different skill sets that when combined create a formula for a successful adventure.
Hiking and Mother Nature have, in many ways, taught me the importance of teamwork and camaraderie.
Once, I was on the verge of completing a one-of-a-kind hiking route in Danao with my friends. In fact, I was literally inches away from the summit of one of the toughest mountains on my island.
But, I stopped and descended when I saw my teammates struggle.
Through hiking, I have learned to put more value on the safety of my friends than personal glory.
And, in the age of Coronavirus, teamwork is, without a doubt, a vital piece to flattening the curve.
We can’t beat coronavirus without teamwork.
We can’t flatten the curve if we only do what’s best for us.
Sure, you may be healthy enough to survive and beat the coronavirus symptoms. But, what about your parents at home? What about the kids that reside in your abode?
To beat the shit out of coronavirus, we need to know our role. If you’re a frontliner, you have to do your job extraordinary well for the safety of everyone.
If you’re an ordinary citizen like me, you have an extremely simple way of preventing coronavirus from spreading further by just staying at home.
Mother Nature’s wrath
As far as I’m concerned, coronavirus did not come from nature. When I realized that the pandemic could last for months and years, I made some preparations and studied how Mother Nature works when she is furious.
Although she can be violent, nature has no malice and doesn’t make war for years. Normally, she is only violent when some elements need to be rebalanced.
And, her wrath is always short-lived: a minute of tectonic plate movement, a few minutes of tsunami, and a day or two of storms.
A human’s greed, on other hand, can lead to years of war, famine and struggle. As history tells us, man can do desperate things to remake society according to his own intricate designs.
Que Sera Sera
Being lost is part of the adventure. Being in an uncomfortable situation makes a more fascinating or interesting story.
Whenever we are lost or in an uncomfortable situation, we just remind ourselves of our motto: “que sera sera” (whatever will be will be).
We don’t get frustrated in these situations. And, we just let the universe do its magic.
At the end of our nature exploration, we discovered that everything is connected and every unfavorable moment is part of the Universe’s grand orchestra.
In this world, nothing happens by accident.
Every moment, experience and event is part of a bigger and more elaborate tapestry.
And, the coronavirus pandemic is just a subplot or a small chapter in the novel authored by the Universe.
Once this pandemic is over, you’ll soon know why the Universe allowed it to happen.
And, if you think I’m full of shit, try to open your old history books and see what happened after the Black Death (Bubonic Plague).
I know it’s hard to be optimistic in these rough moments, but the best thing you can do is to trust the Universe.
If you believe in God, Allah or Vishnu, then give him your brush and canvas, and watch Him as He paints his masterpiece.