Change and Aloneness
Hmm. I’m in an odd sort of mood today. Kinda pensive, kinda unsettled, kinda sad. Not sure why, nor what brought this about.
Travelling is a strange thing. You learn so much about yourself – how you deal with stressful situations, what kind of person you are in different circumstances, what you enjoy, what you hate, and so on. But the more you learn about yourself, the more you come to the realization that you actually know nothing about yourself. Which is a unsettling and perhaps even terrifying realization, at least for me. To imagine that after all these years of being the person that you are, you really don’t know yourself at all. How can that be, you might ask. I don’t claim to know. I can only share with you how I feel, and it is up to you to agree or agree to disagree.
I think it might have something to do with how we are constantly changing, from day to day, even minute to minute or second to second. Things happen, and people change. The thing is, in the daily humdrum of things, the changes are small. Perhaps not insignificant, but small enough to go unnoticed. Small enough to disappear into the routines of life.
You wake up.
You have breakfast.
You go to work.
You kill time till lunch.
You have lunch.
You come back to the office and kill more time.
You go home.
You have dinner.
You watch tv.
You go to bed.
Day in, day out, everyday forever.
Nothing ever changes. Well, maybe it does.
You wake up late one day, and that throws off your routine.
You eat leftover pizza for breakfast and that messes you up the rest of the day.
Your boss yells at you at work,
you have a special farewell lunch for a colleague,
you get fired,
you go to a party and meet someone interesting,
you decide to read a book instead of watching tv,
you go on vacation.
Things change, but ultimately nothing ever does, and the next day, two days later, a week or two later, you’re back to your routine. And when things become routine, you stop changing, or perhaps the change is so slow and gradual that one day, you will just wake up and wonder “when did I become this person?”
Travelling, on the other hand, removes you from routine. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is routine when you travel. You go to sleep in one place, you wake up in another, and the next day you’re in a place you’ve never heard off, having lunch with people you’ve never met before and probably won’t see ever again. You forge many new relationships, transient but ever more so intense for their transience – the underlying sentiment being one of trying to make the most of the fleeting time you have together before it is time to pick everything up and move on. Every connection is painfully vivid, seared into your very consciousness and revolutionizing the way you look at things, but all too soon, it is gone. And at the end of it, you’re left with a feeling of profound aloneness. The feeling that each and every one of us inhibits a separate sphere of reality, with a separate past that existed without you, and a separate future that will exist, regardless of your existence. And sometimes, our spheres may overlap briefly, but too soon, we drift apart, to continue our lonely existence, each in our own little bubble, completely and utterly isolated and insulated from each other.
At the end of the day, we are all travellers. Some of us have suitcases and backpacks, and some of us don’t, but we are all travelling. Perhaps not around the world, or even to a different country or city, but toward some unknown destination. We have no choice in the matter, so we do the best we can, plodding along as best as we know how. And sometimes, we meet someone else who seems to be going the same way, or we stop for a rest next to some other weary traveller. We share a smile, a few kind words, or maybe even walk together for a time. In so doing, we find comfort and solace in the knowledge that while we each are profoundly alone, so is everyone else.
I realize this is a rather incoherent and rambling post, but I felt like I had to get this out. It’s been more than two months since I left home, and while I’ve called more places home in the last two months than I have in the last two years, perhaps what I’m craving is some sort of routine. A while to rest, to breathe, to be. We always get so caught up in what we have or want to do, that we often forget that it is just as important to simply be.
I’m going to find a place to be. I hope you do too.