ex·pe·di·tion /ˌekspəˈdiSH(ə)n/ noun: journey or voyage undertaken by a group of people with a particular purpose, especially that of exploration, scientific research, or war.
Welcome to COVID Expeditions. This is a writing project sponsored by The Center for Mindful Exploration.
As COVID-19 hit the United States, most of us were catapulted into a new world; one vastly different than the presumptive realities we were living. It was a singular time in that, whether it should have or not, it caught us off guard. Most people thought the crisis would last only a few weeks. Our reactions to this new world were varied. Certainly, there was fear of the known and of the unknown. There was uncertainty in much of what we need for survival; our health, our finances, our supports. But there was also wonder, as we considered possibilities for a new life lived in new ways. It was a time that was rich with Beginner’s Mind, the ability to see things anew, as if for the first time.
As March rolled into April and then April into May, the novelty began to wane, and that’s a shame.
It has always been the goal at The Center for Mindful Exploration, to keep people’s eyes and minds wide open to the continued opportunity for exploration and discovery.
To this end, we are beginning a new project: COVID EXPEDITIONS.
We will sponsor one writing prompt a day in May 2020. Each prompt will center around the idea of exploration. Some prompts may be about COVID 19, others will not be, but they will all be about exploring, in one way or another.
These prompts can be used for personal writing or journaling, but they may also be submitted for consideration for publication on our website.
We hope you find COVID EXPEDITIONS meaningful. We hope it give you new ways to think about this time. We hope you enjoy it as writers, as readers and as fellow explorers on this journey.
So…without further ado…
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO RECEIVE THE DAILY WRITING PROMPTS, EMAIL SUSAN@MINDFULX.SITE AND PUT “PLEASE INCLUDE ME” IN THE SUBJECT LINE.
TO SUBMIT A PIECE THAT YOU’VE WRITTEN, EMAIL IT TO SUSAN@MINDFULX.SITE WITH “COVID EXPEDITIONS” AND THE DATE OF THE PROMPT IN THE SUBJECT LINE
Check back frequently. This page will continue to grow as prompts are released and submissions published.
May 1, 2020: Choose a space in your home or outdoor space to “explore”. Explore this space from the perspective of being new or alien to this space. Write about it in as much detail as possible without disclosing the location
May 2, 2020: Write a letter to your future self/ grandchildren/ someone in the future. What do you want them to know about what you have learned during the corona virus pandemic?
May 3, 2020: Explorers of old used the North Star as a reliable guide for navigation. It is located almost directly above the North Pole and it does not change position in the sky so it is a reliable way of finding true north. Choose an object, person, idea that has remained steady for you during this uncertain time. Describe your experience of navigation with this object. How did you learn to seek it out? In what ways has it aided you in navigating this unchartered territory?
The Comfortable. The Known.
May 4, 2020: Life is tenacious and it will always seek expression. Where are you discovering life taking root, tenaciously clinging, seeking expression?
May 5, 2020: “The first day or so we all pointed to our countries. The third or fourth day we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day, we were aware of only one Earth.” ~ Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, astronaut
Describe a moment when you felt your own experience was connected to the experiences of entire earth.
May 6, 2020: You are alone on an island. A gift washes up on the shore. Describe it in great detail. How does it help?
May 7, 2020: You are trapped in a space where a very particular thing happens every day. Describe what happens and how it makes you feel.
May 8, 2020: Write an essay told from the perspective of the virus on its journey.
My Life As A Virus
May 9, 2020: “What the hand does, the mind remembers.” ~ Maria Montessori
This journey has been a retraining of our hands, among other things. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Don’t touch each other. Don’t touch things others have touched. Describe your current relationship with your hands. How has this changed?
My Hands Allowed Me
The Rose That Never Fades
May 10, 2020: It is not unusual to struggle with sleep in times of trouble. There is evidence that in preindustrial Europe, there was such a thing as a first and second sleep. People would go to bed for a couple of hours, wake for a couple of hours, then return to sleep until dawn. Today some cultures still observe siesta in the afternoon. Imagine how a day and evening would go for you if your time was mapped around your own activities and needs instead of the needs of your job. How would your day unfold?
May 11, 2020: I had a sign on the porch for years that said,” Do the kindest thing in the kindest way.” We could all use a little kindness. Describe a time during this crisis when you have experienced kindness. Describe in detail the change that kindness brought about and the way it felt.
May 12, 2020: You have a superpower, but it is not the ability to heal. You cannot eradicate the virus, but your superpower helps you to alleviate suffering in some way. What is your superpower? Describe a scene in which you use your superpower. Why did you choose to use it then? How does it feel to contribute in this way?
May 13, 2020: You are a world-class explorer, having led large expeditions and guided other explorers. Your assignments have taken you to many unusual sites, earthly and beyond. But your latest assignment is the most unusual one yet because you will be time-travelling. The exploration site is your childhood home. You are to take one other person with you. This person could be anyone, someone from your past or your future or even yourself, at any age. You are to find an artifact in your childhood home to show them. What is this artifact and why did you choose it? Describe this artifact and its meaning in as much detail as possible, but bring current understandings to the re-telling of this artifact.
May 14, 2020: Long expeditions are often fraught with hardship and suffering and even death. Where during the pandemic have you experienced suffering and what impact has it had on you or on those around you?
May 15, 2020: Initially, when we journey far away from home, the unfamiliar can be unsettling and we long for the comfort of home. But, if we are gone long enough, the unfamiliar becomes familiar and the familiar can feel unbearable. As the corona virus spread into your experience, what was new that is now familiar? What can you not bear to return to? Describe the feelings of things new, of things familiar and of things unbearable.
May 16, 2020: An alien race touches down on Earth. You have been selected as an expert in your field. You must teach the aliens about a human concept or topic. What do you teach them and how?
May 17, 2020: In the cocoon the caterpillar becomes a metamorphosis soup on a journey to becoming what he could not have imagined. In what ways are you breaking down and how will you emerge?
May 18, 2020: Write a limerick about going to the store.
Trip to the Grocery
That Onerous Task
May 19, 2020: “There is no man existing who has not been formed by the child he once was.” ~ Maria Montessori
Write a story about a child having an experience during the corona virus pandemic and the adult it will turn her/ him into.
Hopefully It’s Just a Pause
May 20, 2020: You find an old box full of family recipes that mothers and fathers in your family have collected over generations. In exploring the contents of this recipe box, you notice one recipe in particular that seems “to call your name.” Write a story about what you imagine this food meant to your family in the past and why?
May 21, 2020: Most of us have no shortage of media exposure right now. Pick a quote that you’ve read or heard with which you strongly disagree. Write a story from the point of view of the person who said it that might explain this point of view.
May 22, 2020: Listen to a piece of music that is not a genre you normally listen to. Notice your response.
How does it feel in your body? What thoughts and feelings come up? Write a story about someone forced to listen to this music who is either repulsed by it or transformed by it.
May 23, 2020: You are outdoors and hear a noise you’ve never heard before. It is not man-made. You hear it again and search for it. You see a creature you’ve never seen before. It has emerged because of some condition created by the pandemic. Write about your encounter with this creature. What is it like? Why is it here? How do you interact? What will happen next?
May 24, 2020: You wake up tomorrow morning and realize that the pandemic was a dream. Write a story about waking up to the old world with what you have experienced during the pandemic.
May 25, 2020: You have been in a Zoom class for a week. You’ve experienced strong reactions to someone else in the class. This person has not had their camera on and has not posted a picture of his/herself…until today.
Now everything has changed. Tell about your experiences of this person and why it changed.
May 26, 2020: There are many people who want to return to life as normal, but many things have changed during the pandemic. Write in great detail about what you need to remember about life during a pandemic.
May 27, 2020: Lots of people have been “recreating” famous pieces of art. Write a story about the pandemic from the point of view of a piece of art in a museum.
A Portrait’s Point Of View
May 28, 2020: Humans are driven to explore. It’s not enough to assume that the earth is flat. We must sail toward the edge and peer over. When we run out of room, we launch ourselves into the stars. This need to explore fuels the development of technology to propel us to places that were once out of reach. Write a story or poem about discovering something seemingly out of reach and the technology you’ll use to get you there.
May 29, 2020: Write a haiku about one small aspect of your experience during the corona virus pandemic.
Hills & Dales Gardens
May 30, 2020: As we retreat from social interactions, we often stop conforming to social norms and expectations, sometimes making us unfit for common life. Write a scene about returning to life as usual, but forgetting to conform to social norms.
May 31, 2020: Don’t be afraid of what you know. During times of isolation and introspection, we often encounter truths we’d just as soon not know. What uncomfortable truths have you come across. Write a short story about someone coming to terms with an uncomfortable truth about him/herself.
COVID Expeditions was a big undertaking that could not have happened without the love and support of many people. Our writing prompts have been the combined work of many of our creative friends and family. For more about our writing prompt contributors please see our EXPEDITION LEADERS page.
And of course we are most thankful to the Brave and the Daring. Thank you to all of the contributors who were gracious enough to share their experiences with all of us.