There’s a loneliness I cannot describe in travelling.
The very essence of travelling is to discover the transience of beautiful things, to discover that there is so much more out there, more than you can handle.
There’s no point getting attached to things, because the very thing that makes them worth keeping, deserves to be set free.
But you can’t help it.
Because no matter how many friends you make, places you see, memories you gather, you want to hold onto them all, even though you know it’s probably impossible.
Why must we posses the things we love?
Why can’t we just love them, as they are?
Why can’t we love them from afar?
Is it because we miss the way they smell? The scent of jasmine in the air on the first day of spring? The musk of your lover’s curly hair the second after they come? The salt spray of the ocean in the first light of dawn as you sit and knead the grainy sand between your fingers and wait for the light to blind you?
Of course we miss the things we see. That’s why we take so many pictures. But we can never quite capture the sparkle of the sun as it glimmers over that lake you spent every holiday at. Or the happiness in your best friends’ eyes. Or the way the fog melts into the dew over the mountains you grew up in. But we take the photos anyway, because we’re trying to hold onto something that cannot be kept.
Should we not?
Does it make it hurt more when we have to let them go?
Or would it have hurt the same anyway?
As much as I try not to form attachment over things, I do. I feel like once I’ve had something, experienced something, felt something, shared something with someone, they’re a part of me forever. And I want them with me forever. Why is it so hard to let go? Why does it make us so scared? Letting go of them doesn’t erase the time we spent together.
It’s easier when travelling, because there’s always going to be something else equally good to distract us. What about when there’s not?
I fear that time.
I want to travel for a long time. But I don’t want to travel just because it’s a way to escape the things that are hard. Ironically, travel should be a way to challenge us, but the constant migration, the continuous flow of new faces and flavours, is another form of distraction. Instead of scrolling down on Facebook, we walk into a new city. Is that okay? Or is that avoidance of the highest level?
I’ve met people who’ve travelled for a long time, a really long time, and it’s enriched their lives so much. They’ve explored the world, solo, alone, but never truly lonely, because they welcome with open arms, open hearts, and enormous smiles, every sight and sound and voice that comes to them. I want to be like them.
So why am I so lonely?
I think all travellers are lonely, but we embrace the feeling, to truly embrace ourselves. I find another part of myself when I’m with others. But when I’m truly alone, indeed truly lonely even, that is, I feel alone regardless of how many people are there with me, faces either familiar or foreign who just can’t at that moment tap into the emotion that’s bothering me so much, I really get what cold is. I really get what hot is. I get what it is to feel wet, or dry, or hungry, or happy, or content, or frightened. Fear, when I’m alone, is paralysing. Happiness, when I’m alone, is giddying; the smiles that stretch over my face are painful. The aloneness, the vulnerability, the realisation that nothing happens unless I make it happen, is mind numbing. I can really feel my heart beat at those times. I feel the breath flow in between my lips. I see the lines in my hands and the freckles on my knees. I feel the gravity that pulls me down into the space that I occupy on the earth. The ground isn’t just dusty, it makes me cough. The sea isn’t just wet, it makes me gargle and choke. The sky isn’t just high, it’s endless.
I’m lonely in myself, I guess because I’m discovering myself for the first time. And it’s scary to meet someone new, all the time. Especially when you’re not sure you’ll like her. But acceptance is the highest form of kindness, and don’t we all deserve kindness?