Dangerously Daydreaming

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." ~ T. E. Lawrence

The Lonely Traveler

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.


10 comments on “The Lonely Traveler

  1. Silvia Reed
    November 1, 2012

    Great post Audrey. Lonely, uhhmmm??? Not really, when I’m traveling I’m just too excited about the destination (a sense of curiosity if I’ve never been there or a desire to meet old friends again if I’ve been or lived there before). As strange as this sounds, there’s been times I’ve felt lonely when visiting Peru, where I was born. When you’ve been away from your country for as many years as I have and have experienced so many changes in your life (and I believe every destinations makes you change a bit, become more aware), sometimes you become a tourist in your own home country, at least that’s my experience.

    • Audrey
      November 2, 2012

      Thank you, Silvia! I could understand the excitement part. And it actually makes sense that you would feel alone sometimes in your home country after all of your travels and experiences elsewhere. It changes you so much and you never are the same person as when you left. It’s definitely not a bad thing, but a strange feeling for sure. I usually feel that when I get back to the U.S. from these humanitarian aid trips. Seeing so much hurt, beauty, sadness, and hope all in one short spell makes me feel removed from my own culture for a time. Hugs to you, mi amiga bonita!

  2. Curly Carly
    November 1, 2012

    I loved this post Audrey! I think living in Alaska, where everything is so far away, can give you a built-in sense of being alone. Not necessarily in a bad way, though. That’s something I miss…that peaceful solitude that you can’t really feel in most places. I’m actually watching a show about Alaska right now and getting a little homesick!

    Have fun on your trip! I’m sure you’ll have great stories to tell!

    • Audrey
      November 2, 2012

      Thanks Carly! Yes, you’ve nailed the feeling perfectly. Alaska does give a sense of aloneness like none other. I wish people wouldn’t talk about being lonely like it’s always a bad thing, it really can be so peaceful to have those times of quiet. Too funny! I’ve been watching some Alaska shows lately too, and it seems so cool to me that we’ve had the chance to live there and experience a bit of that wild land for ourselves.

  3. Ad-libb3d
    November 1, 2012

    I’ve always thought that solitary travel is a both liberating and lonely at the same time. I like being alone — it’s so rare for me to be “alone” for any extended period of time — I enjoy the solitude, and travel grants that. But then it wears off and I miss the company. It’s a blurry line sometimes.

    • Audrey
      November 2, 2012

      It’s true! There’s a weird juxtaposition about the whole thing. Feeling peaceful in the aloneness, being surrounded by strangers. Enjoying some moments alone, then feeling like a soul in solitary confinement. The split personality of travel, perhaps?

  4. ethelthedean
    November 2, 2012

    What a beautiful post! I understand exactly of that which you write. I too love to travel, and I love spending time with just myself, but sometimes when I’m about to set off on a particularly long flight by myself I have to fight back the tears. It’s overwhelming.

    I like the juxtaposition of “alone” and yet crammed into a tight space with many, many other people. It certainly can play with the mind!

    I cannot believe you leave so soon! All my very best wishes for a safe flight and trip. I cannot wait to hear all about it when you return 🙂

    • Audrey
      November 2, 2012

      I’m so glad it makes sense, it was feeling like a blabbering, random post sometimes but hopefully the heart and soul of it came out. 🙂 It’s so strange to me how travel can be freeing and confining all at once.
      My lovely fellow traveler, I’m so excited to see down with you over some wine and chat about our experiences. One day!!

      And thank you! Yes, it boggles my little brain that I leave tomorrow (in the evening and out of Vancouver, no less!). And of course I haven’t packed yet. Are you a last minute packer too? Thank you for the happy wishes and will try to be in touch with a few posts while I’m out. Stories to follow!
      (Feel free to find me on FB, I may be able to post on there more regularly) 🙂 Big loves!!

  5. betunada
    November 2, 2012

    actually, no. re: feelin’ alone. if you’ve got a 15-min. “to waste” — read my “alongside Kerouac.” THAT was a different period, mode, method, and a different ME. wouldn’t be possible today. i am usually more “anxious” than ‘alone.’
    (& that’s ’cause … and i’m reluctant to say why. suffice: i KNOW i’m not along)

    • betunada
      November 4, 2012

      oopseez: (i wish the poster could go back into comments & CORRECT stuff): i know i’m not ALONE.

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