Catching me off-guard, a stranger I’ve only known for two days noticed a sadness in me that goes unnoticed back home.
I was straddling a ledge on the roof of our hostel, smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer. The main street created a corridor that framed the sunset along the town’s main street. I think it’s normal to feel highs and lows in life. I just get like this sometimes, I told her, throwing in a dumb joke about how I wouldn’t jump. She laughed and admitted that even if I jumped, the wires would brace my fall and I’d probably be alright. She left and I finished my beer. Strangely, I felt like crying.
Despite having so much time to myself while backpacking, I still experience many of the same negative emotions that I did back home.
Realistically, I feel these negative emotions are arising pricesely because I have so much time to myself. There is no distration to make me forget, to weed to numb the uncomfortable feelings I feel sometimes.
In an environment without television, internet, or other distractions, one really has nowhere else to look and starts to look inward.
Perhaps that look inwards is a subconscious goal of travelling to remote parts of the world. With that increased inward gaze, one starts to be aware of things that was previously suppressed with distractions. Traveling in Asia has no shortage of distractions to the foreigner should they welcome it but can be equally distraction-free if you design your trip that way (no portable movie players, ipods, etc). This isn’t a 12-hour trip to distract yourself during, it’s something you need to interact with as much as possible and in as many ways as possible. In doing so, your interactions with travel will, in reality, be interactions with the self; the decisions you make, the people you seek out, and the way you hold yourself.
If at any time things get tough or heavy, realize a fundamental truth: All things arise, exist, and expire. Nothing is permanent. Things come in and go out. The thing that is liked just appears for a moment, exists, and expires.