Alone

People regularly ask me how many people I’m traveling with, and when I say it’s only me they unanimously tell me that traveling would be better with more people, a group of two being the popular best bet. Reasons cited: camaraderie, to share the experiences, troubleshooting. I meet independent travelers often, and all of them own it, including me. I guess you don’t know if it’s for you until you’ve tried it, and you’re in the place to enjoy it.

I’m also in training, working to relearn and rethink my choices and dependencies. I often ask myself, “Why am I doing [this]?”, “Why do I like [this]?”, and “Why do I feel [this way]?” One of my compulsions which I’ve identified and questioned is “Am I too dependent on the company of others?” My history shows me almost always hanging out with other people… and I’ve often thought that I lack the independence to “do my own thing”. Challenging this, wanting to grow more intimate with my self, was one exciting aspect of this journey.

So how’s it going? Really awesome. I’m not lonesome at all. I’m also happy to feel the peace of myself… it’s a brand new feeling, perhaps not possible for me until now, in my little wooden room on a cliff with a balcony overlooking the Mekong River. Here I’m free to read, write, listen to music, sleep. It’s crazy, but I’ve never in my life felt like I could do these things before. I can’t recall a moment yet where I’ve wished for another to share the experience, the pain, or the meal with. (The exception is sharing a nap… just kidding, I’m actually fine without girls too.) When I want company, or more specifically if someone looks interesting, I’ll introduce myself. Granted, I’ve never felt alone, except when by choice (like tonight, when I’m trying to write!)

On the road, cycling, I face my share of challenges. Actually, every day nearly brings me to the brink of giving up. Yesterday I rode 100km in about 6hrs of pedaling, and it wasn’t easy, but I made it. Today I had only 55km to my goal and it took me 3hrs pedaling, but it felt like 8. I’ve said it before, but I really enjoy every other day… and the ones in-between are the hard ones. But I’m discovering and breaking my limits. On both good and bad days, I need to explore the depths of my mind and body to find energy to go on… it also helps that I have all the time in the world, if I resort to just “going through the motions”. But that almost never happens… I always want to be moving efficiently, to make good time, to get it over with.

And I’m continually breaking new ground. When I said the mind games are fantastic, I mean it. Sometimes I’m on TV a la Tour de France, (I am being watched most of the time); at times an imaginary rope is pulling me faster up the hill (and it truly does); I pretend I’m the last man on earth and I don’t actually have a destination (which helps defeat the goal and be in the present), and since there are often people & animals around, I see them in my periphery as humanimals rebuilding the world. In the tradition of my video-gaming childhood, I collect a variety of Power-Ups, exchange smiles and Sai-ba-dee’s (greetings) for energy, get juiced by other people hard at work (as I’ve imagined for much of the last year the tireless old Nepali women schlepping water and bundles of logs on their backs up and down hills), and I enlist the company of countless cows, ducks, dogs, buffalo and the occasional pair of happy-go-lucky goats to help me along. I’m working on a variation of the Walking Meditation too… not so much luck there, but it something to keep working on!

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