Seeing the Daily Prompt today got me thinking about loneliness. And with my trip to Israel fast approaching (Saturday!), I realized that travel days are when I feel the most alone.
Travel is a lonely business, though that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Some of my fondest memories are of taking the train up and down the West Coast when I lived in Oregon. Watching the world go flying by for 6 hours always made me more pensive and quiet. I wasn’t here nor there, but a being in transition.
When I visit family in Alaska I usually travel back and forth from Washington alone. My mind wonders and wanders the wilds of The Last Frontier while I peek out the window and see hundred of miles of snow-capped mountains spreading across the earth. Seeing a land so vast, so untamed always made me feel small, and yes, alone.
Flying across the oceans is by far the most lonely of journeys though. Packed into a tiny seat of a giant cabin with scores of other travelers lends a sense of lonesomeness unlike anything else. Alone with strangers. Part of it is the knowledge of leaving familiarity behind. Part of it is that I get lost in books, music, and my thoughts – a world of my own. It’s not depressing, it’s not saddening – but it is entirely solitary.
During my days as a single college student, one of my favorite things was taking solo drives and road trips. The chance to be alone, to think, to see, and to explore for myself. I had no concern for a companion’s needs. It was me and the road – so lonely, so free.
When I think of the loneliness of travel, a shooting star comes to mind. It’s there and gone in a moment. Even if other stars accompany it, it strikes its own path. The journey is the adventure. Excitement and melancholy have no place there. But loneliness pervades that journey because each of us shooting stars arches across our own way in the sky.
So as I start thinking about packing, of being a shooting star again, I prepare my heart for the lonely journey. Even though I have always traveled with a team internationally, there’s a feeling of being a solitary wanderer among other such wanderers. We each experience these trips in our own way – we share the road but the journey is our own.
Do you ever feel alone when you travel?
*All photos courtesey of Wikipedia.