Eat Your Words: Eternal Return

I just finished reading The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold. Billed as “Station Eleven meets The 5th Wave,” this brilliant post-apocalyptic book raises the philosophical concept of “eternal return.” Put quite simply, everything has happened before, and everything will happen again.

There are a lot of variations on this theme throughout academic and literary work. History is often accused of repeating itself. Everything online is a copy of a copy of a copy…

Today, there’s a lot of talk about “returning” to life as usual. With vaccination rates racing infections, the pandemic may have an end date in sight. Maybe. Hopefully.

Look anywhere, and there are signs of a return to some semblance of normal. Granted, normal wasn’t great, and I really hope we don’t return to normal as it was. That said, I can’t wait to return to exploring the world.

My wife and I were ardent travelers pre-pandemic. It’s been 477 days since I last spent a night in a hotel. Sure, some people are now and have been traveling, but the two of us have remained safe and adhering to CDC guidelines.

We booked our first post-pandemic trip for later this year. To say I’m excited is an understatement. I look forward to visiting cities and local restaurants and using public transportation. It’s the little things.

All that said, I hope all of this newfound access to the world does not bring about another round of eternal return. With increased travel across borders brings a heightened risk of infection spread. While I am one of 100 million Americans with the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, access remains scarce, especially in other countries.

While I look forward and plan our next trip, I wonder what travel will look like. What goes into COVID-consious exploration? How can I be aware of my role as a potential spreader to the unvaccinated? These are questions everyone needs to ask before returning to travel. If not, we could easily wind up right back where we are now (or were a few months ago) in a neverending state of eternal return.

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