The International Writers Magazine: Travel
Six reasons why you should travel alone…after a rough breakup.
There comes that time in your life when your views and perceptions of people become finally tempered, either generalizing and expounding that “all people are shit and garbage.”
This was proclaimed to me recently by a cuckolded friend, in his vitriol launched at his ex in the form of words stripped down to the bare bones of humorous vulgarity; or, that “all people are the same” so there’s no point to really stress about it because we’ll always cause each other and ourselves a never-ending pain and suffering regardless of the colors of moods we put on every day. As what Sartre once said, “people are hell,” right?
This is the blah p.o.v which comes out against the fellow human after a particular event of marital dismissal or breakup, compelling you to say – “I will now practice the Art of Zen and I don’t give a fuck.”
Nonetheless, this uncaused cause of interpersonal turmoil can trigger a healthy mind-revolution. In my case, it came in the form of travelling alone.
After seeing 13 countries with a girl who has itchy-feet syndrome, who was just as footloose and fancy free as I was, who was the most lovingly loveable nymphet in a pixie-do saying “yowza-madoozee” as part of her vernacular as much as I said, “eh!” in mine; and to see her suddenly transform into a cold and callous medusa-like-bitch parting with me in an unsavoury manner – I gave in to her requests (and relationships altogether) and started my vagabonderie by myself. I guess living in a 94’ Opel for 28 days straight while travelling throughout the Balkans, roughing it out together for 672 hours!! and not be sick of each other does not always prognosticate that everlasting love or wonderful fairy-tale moments forever.
Anyhow, it was the undoing of that moment in my life which forced me to say – “fuck it! I’m packing my bags and hitting the road, alone!” And after backpacking Russia, Mongolia, China and the Philippines for a few months, all by my lonesome on this planet of ours, I feel that I have the license to express why travelling alone is the best option, always, as much as a panacea for being down in the dumps. Here are six reasons to back up my claim.
1. The first is the sense of freedom you regain. You are once again on the market, but don’t expect to jump back into a relationship while travelling because your ephemeral encounters aren’t promising and won’t add up to anything but facebook messaging or skype sex. The most important thing is to start fresh and anew, and that entails you not having to be loyal to anyone but yourself and your libidinal urges (wink, wink). And while travelling alone, you do not have to consult your partner on what you want to do - there are no quarrels, only with yourself if you regret eating scorpions in Beijing or going to Gyeongbokgung palace on a rainy day in Seoul.
Remember that two people on a trip mean the possibility of two priorities, and if they aren’t lined up then a crash and burn is inevitable. I’d recently met an Austrian couple whose marriage fell apart in the Mongolian Steppes. He wanted to head North to Khövsgöl national park, and she wanted to head South to Beijing for she was sick of eating khuushuur, mutton, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, every day. They said that they had never in their life spent so much time together, and as a result of their re-learning, they ended their marriage abruptly, for at the core of everything there were irreconcilable differences in their life views. I recently got in contact with them on facebook - she had switched her status to single faster than one could say prenup, and he, well, the photos he posted of himself in compromising poses with a lady-friend spoke for themselves.
Bigger personal gains
2. Your sense of adventure is amplified when travelling alone because unplanned events which may push you to steer off the beaten path - to machete-leading territory never before traversed - are decided upon by you and only you. And get off that path, it’s not a bad thing. Don’t be sticky on your paper itinerary. Stuff your lonely planet for once into your rucksack, let the ebb and flow of human interaction inspire you and push you off course. You never know what you’ll encounter - a secluded beach, a pleasant precipice overlooking the village, or, a surprising invitation to someone’s home for wine and cheese, just enough to melt your heart and unmoor the ugly past with your ex forever.
Feign a different person, redefine yourself.
3. Tied in with the second point, while travelling alone, you’re more likely to engage locals on the full experience of quotidian matters such as politics, traditions, cultures and rituals because you are more likely to be more daring and uninhibited. Being responsible for your own self is different than having to take care of a spouse and yourself all at the same time. Also, I personally feel that the number of languages you learn fluently are the different people you could pretend to be. So, if you’re a striving polyglot, studying Thai, Spanish, Farsi or any other language on this planet, now’s the time to put your skills to use. You could finally put on that other-identity coat and tongue exercise your ceceo in Spain or seseo in Mexico. Now is the time to sit next to that toothy Polish guy at the bar and practice your nazdrowie, or finally you could engage that Malay princess as she’s sunbathing in her chaise longue on a white sandy beach. Lure her in with gadis cantik, you’re beautiful, and you’ll see that you’ll quickly forget that girl from yesterday and meet the girl of tomorrow. Remember, if your full of genuine candour and about as open as an unsteamed clam, then you shall receive genuine candour in return, perhaps also a bucketful of the bivalves as a gift from an Italian fisherman straight from a trip on Mediterranean waters.
4. I do travel photography, and I always bore a particular unease when I did my craft with my beau standing right next to me; waiting for me to finish, to get going, to who-knows-what maybe jump off a cliff or something. For some reason, I felt that those photos were write-offs for I failed to capture the clichéd “essence” of my subjects. I couldn’t, as was once said to me by a Belarusian man in the streets of Minsk, “take a piece of their soul away” for I felt my soul totally intruded on by her standing nearby impatiently, perhaps waiting to go get a hamburger and French fries or something when at an amazing fish market called Jagalchi in Busan South, Korea.
5. Place yourself in situations outside of your comfort zone; get out of that box of extravagance and opulence and do something different. Sleep under that bridge, or in that cheap hostel, or go to a ping-pong show! As a result, you’ll learn a lot about yourself and others and that will lead to your personal growth and development independent of any ladies in your life. Another interesting note. If you ever get into any trouble, at least you’ll know that you’ll have to sort it out on your own. And when you find solutions for them using your own faculties, then the more memorable the trip.
6. Lastly, travelling alone lets you finally heal and learn not to rely on anyone, because in reality, you came out of the womb in solitude and will return to the Earth the same way. For me, the best thing was was that I never had to solicit for female companionship just to bounce back, my two babies Canon and Canon were enough to alleviate my demoralized world. Although, it would have been nice to be fanned with papaya leaves and fed grapes by dark-haired odalisques in a harem. Whatever pleases you in your time of despair and desperation, huh?
In the end, if you choose to travel alone, you’ll maximize your time and being, you’ll put yourself into every moment with the other souls you’ve encountered, and finally, you’ll learn to love and appreciate every fraction of your own time and space, and that is the most rewarding part of travelling with only you, yourself and your open mind and no one else.
If you care to read some more of my rants, you could check me out here at www.mariuszstankiewicz.com or check out my travel photography section, the part which I’m more known for rather than long and bitter screeds.
© M Stankiewicz September 2011