Travel teaches a lot about ourselves if we are willing to take the time to stop and reflect. I’ve just spent 3 weeks travelling alone and I have come back to my adopted country with a new understanding of myself and the world around me, never-mind of those I thought I knew so very well.
I went back to my home country after 8 years. 8 years of limited contact with friends and family. Some connections just happened again like there was no time lost, others well, they never connected even though so many promises were made over internet cables. My heart was broken and hurt and bruised and I’ve come back with damage that will take months, if not years, to heal.
I have learned that I am capable of doing things that I never thought I could. Of going to see places alone and enjoying the experience without the benefit of a companion. I have enjoyed the silence and the ability to view things from just my perspective, of not having to appease another. It is fun travelling with another, don’t get me wrong, but this trip has taught me that it’s okay to do things alone too. There is value in doing things alone.
I have strength and ability that I have hidden from myself. I am able to go confidently and see what it is I want to see, explore and investigate and then document that. I can ask for what it is I want, take care of myself and ensure my safety. This has opened my eyes to see that the world lies before me. I do not need to have someone with me. I am capable of doing this alone.
Three weeks from my home is a long time. I missed some of my little things like my shower and my couch. I missed the silence. I forgot how noisy my home country is. How family and friends have constant noise around them. I sometimes wonder if that is to hide something or if it is because they do not wish to confront something within themselves? I have learned to appreciate my silences. The quiet. The calm.
Practicality is one of my more frustrating traits, and so when I went back to RSA I wasn’t expecting rose gardens, nor was I expecting the wild west!! It has grown shabby and unkempt. A shadow of the former beauty that it once was. The money is being siphoned off (let’s be honest gravy trains abound) and the infrastructure and people are suffering. I see ordinary folk trying to live ordinary lives just like we do down here. Each hampered by their circumstances. My birthplace and home of my youth was what I expected to see, just a lot worse for wear.
I suppose the biggest change is how I view people and relationships. In 3 weeks this has changed a lot and I am working through how this impacts those around me. Especially intimate relationships. Travelling “home” taught me that there is no home. I am reminded of the ABBA song “The Winner Takes It All”.
I was in your arms / Thinking I belonged there
I figured it made sense / Building me a fence
Building me a home / Thinking I’d be strong there
But I was a fool / Playing by the rules
People behave differently when you are part of a set / group travelling. They are more polite and tend to include you more. I was often just there and not through any deliberate fault of anyone, but it’s hard when they are two or more and you are one. They are involved with each other and get caught up, you are often left to your own thoughts and devices. I listened and watched and learned things about people that made me wonder if I knew them at all. Silence is still the better part of valour … apparently, because honesty isn’t.
I loved and lost. Badly. And didn’t maintain silence. It has drifted over to this side of the sea and is affecting things here. I am finding that I wish to rather not commit to things when I know I could be hurting others. Travel has taught me that hurt takes a long time to heal. I am maintaining honesty at least and ensuring that I stay above board in my dealings – at least here I am able to do that.
The life lesson(s) for me from the 3 weeks is that being practical is not a bad thing; travelling alone is doable; I am stronger than I think and people are never who they seem. My heart – well now, that’s something that I will simply pick up the pieces and place in a box and lock away. I didn’t really need it anyway.