“The man who goes out alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready”. Henry David Thoreau
On the news yesterday, I learned about a British Man who just finished walking the entire length of the Amazon River. 859 days filled with all sorts of adventure including gargantuan snakes, man-eating fish, tropical diseases just to name a few. He had company throughout most of the trip, but for some of it he walked alone. There is something to be said about planting yourself, just yourself, all alone, in a foreign environment. You don’t necessarily have to transplant yourself for hundreds of days, but for just enough time to learn how to enjoy and appreciate your own company without feeling insecure, or scared or even bored.
I’ve taken a few trips on my own. My first one was to Ireland. Even though I was on an organized tour and I met new people, I felt very lonely for the first few days. I was seeing and learning all these wonderful things about one of the most beautiful areas of the world. Everyday day I was immersed in history and culture but at the end of each day, I had no one to debrief with about it all. So, I debriefed with myself, writing down everything I did and saw and thought. And by the third day I got used to the solitude.
My second trip alone was to Kyoto. I was visiting a friend in Tokyo and decided to take a sojourn on my own for five days. I was familiar with the aloneness striking out on my own could cause so the feeling didn’t unsettle me. But this time my travel was a bit different from my experience in Ireland. I didn’t know the language and the culture was vastly different. And you know what? It felt good to be cushioned by unfamiliarity. I didn’t have to make connections all I had to do was experience. And again I wrote down what I did and saw and learned.
My third trip alone was to London England. This time I went for ten days. And I packed every day with experiences I wanted to have, some planned, others spontaneous. I visited museums and libraries and pubs and markets. Writing down everything as I went along. And when I got home I had all sorts of stories to tell.
Now in my little adventures I did not encounter snakes or flesh-eating fish, but I did learn how to be comfortable with my own company. That I can be independent in an environment completely different from my own.
Taking a trip to a foreign land all alone is something I wish for everyone. An experience that is purely and completely your own.