Alone or Not To Be Alone: Traveling's Mindset

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January 14th 2007
Published: January 14th 2007
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It is one thing to be by yourself. It is another to be together. It’s one thing to have only yourself to turn to. It’s entirely another to have others there with you. It is one; the loneliest number that could ever be. It is one multiplied by any number other than itself; friendship, companionship, support.

Traveling can be extremely difficult, especially while on the solo track. You find yourself confounded by a deep-seated loneliness and you discover you have nobody, nothing—no idea of what to do, how to do it, and when you end up there, wherever there might be, will anyone ever find you?

I was on that boat, that churning rail-line on a one-way track. The currents carried me, the waves thrashed my vessel. The track rose up, and the track fell down. I threw coals into the fire, and it chugged further, but I was alone (the sole captain, the lone conductor), deep-seated in loneliness, too far to ever turn back.

On the road, you might be alone. You might be experiencing these feelings. You might think you’re so far along on your own personal journey that no one else could possibly be near you, at your side and available for support. Nope. Wrong.

Can I give you a hint?

You are never alone.

Like-Minded & The Paths

I met her years ago. She was quiet, calm, beautiful in a manner of complete respect. There were things about her I knew I would never know, things that were hers, forever hers.

I had been traveling for sometime. I was on my own pilgrimage, discovering a path of the soul, paving my trail away from the family and friends I knew, and emerging into a world within my own dreams. The journey up until that time was of isolation, rowing across empty seas, ascending the nomadic hillsides of the hermit’s region. Yes, I was alone, and I believed it.

In the summer of 2005 an opportunity crossed my path. I was reading the Seattle Weekly and my eyes ran upon an intriguing title: Walk for Peace. Following this interest, I read the short press release detailing an extended expedition from central Washington onto the state’s western peninsula to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Lead by two Buddhist monks, the peace walk would be honoring the dead and those effected who suffered innocently within the injustices of war.

My eyes stopped short of the article’s end and immediately went to the contact information. I grabbed the phone, dialed, and was aboard.

Out With Soul-Mates

She was Ishikawa Kaori. With jet-black hair, brown eyes, and a Buddha’s round smile upon broad shoulders, she was short but with an appearing strength originating from far within.

Yet at this time, she knelt before the black asphalt and cried, moved into the emotion of compassion as we stood before Area 200 located outside Richmond, WA. Surrounded by fields of barbed wire, wrapping the legality of consanguine chain-link, Area 200 was the plant that manufactured the plutonium for Fat Boy, the man-made force destined to flatten Japan’s seaside Nagasaki.

“All people who share this world carry pain and need to be healed.” It was Kaori, and she moved through me. I was no longer alone. I was together with family, with friends, and discovering them, allowing our paths to cross, I suddenly knew there would always be others. “And as soon as I was accepting of myself for who I was, a lot of pain came up in my heart. I realized I had to be healed alongside all people of this world.”

I went to traveling alone to traveling through a world where hundreds, thousands, possibly millions of other people resided on the same conscious level. My thoughts and feelings were not alone. My ideals and beliefs were held up not only by my own inner strength, but by that found within others. I soon discovered that the more I shared and opened myself up to the people surrounding me, and the more I accepted the community of the human soul, the more powerful I felt and the more faithful I became to my purpose. Most of all, this understanding created balance; balance between solitude and community, where we would share our stories together from the beginning to the end.

You Grow, I Grow

I felt at that time there would be a higher purpose to create balance in the world on many different levels.” I walked with Kaori as we spoke at different intervals. We shared ourselves along that peace walk, learning of the ways we keep ourselves going amidst a world of suffering.

Kaori continued: “Before I was walking on peace walks and on my own spiritual path, I realized I used to be narrow-minded, controlled by my fears and worries. I use to blame someone or something else when I experienced pain in my heart, but I realized I was the one doing it to myself.”

As being part of my first peace walk, walking and living for peace, in peace, within a community, the support was immense and each person had their story to tell. All ears were curious. We wanted to know as much as we could of one another, which as a result strengthened our purpose. Kaori continued to share; “I feel I have become more strong in my belief toward creating peace in the world by trusting myself and the Creator who watches our every movement.”

Whether alone or within a supporting community, there are other methods we create to provide us with that connection to one’s self or one’s higher belief. I asked Kaori of her practices that enable her to delve deeper into her path. “I do meditations,” she began, “and I perform rituals in different ways, creating the time to make prayers for all our relations. I try to remind myself that everything I do is prayer. For example, I think cooking a meal is one form of prayer, and I remember this in order to pray.”

Likewise, I held my prayers throughout the walk. We rose at 5:30 in the morning and prayed, and back at home I rise before dawn to practice my yoga, stretch my body and expanded the mind into meditation. Before meals, in front of the faces of loved ones, I clasp my hands in the spirit of prayer, just as Kaori and others, giving thanks to the blessings, the health, the beauty and the possibilities in the life we have today. Together or alone, one or multiplied by the infinite, the paths and their methods are illimitable, and when shared, they only strengthen and grow.

Alone Or Not Alone: This Is Your Question

It comes down to one thing. Yes, alone or within a community, we find support and strength, we find our means of inspiration to progress onwards. It is a conviction within the heart and when connected to this source, our ability is unwavering; nothing may break our equanimity.

Albeit, we hold beliefs within our mind and I was curious of Kaori’s. She allowed me to peer in and see what manifested from her practices and the life of peace she lead: “I feel that we are in big transition, where each individual’s intentions will be affected in different ways. The world is like mud,” she described, “with beautiful lotus flowers.” The image painted my mind and she blossomed, releasing her fragrance into a world crying for care.

“It’s hard to believe,” Kaori related, “that this world can change quickly towards a harmonized and balance planet, but I do believe that it can and what we do, what we think and feel, will be passed on to the next generation. We cannot see the change in this lifetime, but we are still able to leave our healthy intentions behind. To create this, it takes doing our work here today. We are not here just for ourselves, but for others and those who come after us.”

In fact we are here together, doing each thing everyday as one family. We are not here alone, despite how diverse and different our beliefs might be. For me to recognize this, it took a peace walk and a coming together within a community of individuals living under one belief. Here, feelings were released from deep inside.

The time I spent with Kaori helped me realize that whether one man in one world, there is always a number other than itself to multiply and create a belief of support. One may be the loneliest number, but one wouldn’t exist without two, three or four; therefore… the hint: You are never alone. One does not exist without the other.

This article was originally written for and posted on Brave New Traveler


15th January 2007

an inspiring read. really admire your self-assuredness, and envy you somewhat. i've travelled to a number of places alone and everytime people ask me who did i travel with, my face still puts on a spontaneous pout when i answer "alone". i've enjoyed all my travels alone but its always questions like that that get me down. and so here i am, as with past years, browsing the internet on solo travel hoping to find some kindred spirit. if not, at least learn not to be intimidated by the word 'alone'.
16th January 2007

I randomly stumbled upon your article, just at the right moment. I've been traveling by myself for a while and now, nearing the end of my trip, started to get strange, unexplainable feelings that I think are loneliness. I can't be sure because it's not a feeling I am used to, but reading what you have written has helped me put things into perspective. Thank you.
18th January 2007

thanks little bro for these words....needed them today - had an awesome talk with alice and was able to figure a lot of stuff out through discussion - nice to come back and read this! you
29th April 2008

Nice Blog
You have an inspiring outlook in life. Keep sharing....cheers !....P.S. Glad to have read this blog. It's definitely one of your best writings...made a mistake for not reading it before ;>

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