WHERE loneliness begins? ‘You travel alone?’ I hear again. A question asked countless times. It keeps coming up regularly. It almost never waits for an answer, and, immediately, another statement usually follows. ‘That must be horrible to be always alone.’…
Questions that contain one and the same word – alone – in various shapes. Those exact questions made me wonder. Am I alone? Do I travel alone? What’s it really like to be alone?
The first time I thought about it’s in Istanbul. I looked back at more than four months on the road, about 3 000 km. Well, maybe I should finally start feeling lonely. Why is it not so? I began counting. How much time did I really spend alone during those four months of travelling to Istanbul? It’s a pretty hard work!
During the first week of the journey I was alone for two days. At that time I was still in the Czech Republic, there were some public holidays and the weather was ugly. The banks surrounding the river, on which I was paddling, were deserted. I met only two fishermen. I said hello to them but I don’t count that as an active interaction.
I was alone for two more days in Austria just before arriving to Linz. There’re always many people but no contact. It’s true that I talked with a receptionist in a camp, and with a shop assistant, but that’s nothing to lift me out of the reality that I was alone on my journey.
Around Vienna I experienced another 24 hours when I’d no direct human contact. Or, to say it more exactly, it covered an afternoon on one day and then the following morning. Frankly, to the borderline of Vienna I was accompanied by a kayaker whom I met in Linz. Then from Vienna my Slovakian and Czech friends joined me on a motor boat. And there’s another friend kayaker too.
Well, two more days when I was alone were in a hostel in Istanbul. I spent 14 days there and for two days I tried to find myself a quiet spot where I’d have my peace and some space for writing. The rest of the time a kept meeting my, not only Turkish, friends.
So, how much alone am I truly on the journey? Well, from the four months it took to Istanbul it’s exactly seven days. One week divided into four months. That’s not very much space for being alone. Here, in Istanbul, I haven’t met anyone so far who’d want to join me on my journey. So, I’m quite curious how many days, or how much space, of being alone I will experience. But, that’s something I have yet to see for myself.
It’s sure that the question ‘what’s it like to be alone on a journey’ will come again. Similarly, it’s sure that the inquirer will often answer sooner than the question even gets asked. The whole matter makes me thoughtful. How many people there are who feel alone? And is it really possible nowadays to feel alone? Surely, it’s possible, but not so easy.
Are you feeling lonely? Maybe all you have to do is to remember that in these days it’s rather hard to be truly alone. And if you’re good at being alone, then you are certainly able to surround yourselves with people who make you feel good and happy.
From the journey around Europe