I have found, when it comes to travel living (i.e. the act of traveling to a place to cultivate a life for a medium-length temporary period of time before moving along to a new destination and repeating the process), I feel almost all emotions in a concentrated dose.
To a degree, this happens when I’m just travel-traveling, for a week or so to a place. But it really nests deep when I’m somewhere for an extended period of time trying out different notions of “home”.
I mean, you don’t just get to skate by with, “I’ll be home in a week, so I’ll just enjoy this”, right? You don’t get to go home in a week. This is your home.
And I’m so lucky for all of this. Which I feel in hyper-concentration.
I sit on the rocks at Point Chevelier, tucked away from all of Auckland, my toes grazing the harbor waves and it’s just me and the strong sun out here. I’m reading an Auckland Public Library book—any book that I want to read, they’ve got it—and perhaps I’ve got a nice Hawke’s Bay IPA in hand. I’ve finished a shift at Il Forno, my toes are exhausted and my ankles happy to be circulating. I feel my entire body circulate, I feel my skin tingle and giggle in the sun, I feel my soul sigh with the waves.
I feel SO LUCKY. Exactly like that, in capital letters. SO LUCKY. Who am I to get to be here? To be alive for this? SO LUCKY.
I feel peace. Sitting outside on the verandah with Hope, the dog, curled up beside me, snoring softly. The air is cool and alive today and the sound of birds out-sings the distant cars. I’ve got some Jelly Roll Morton shining from my laptop, I’ve got 4 hours before I have to do anything, my laundry is drying beside me. I’m clean. Peace.
And by jove do I feel it—do I feel the lullaby peace rocking my soul. It’s concentrated pomegranate juice. No water added.
I feel excited, like CRAZED EXCITEMENT when I get to go somewhere, like Wellington, like Christchurch. The sense of adventure captivates me and sweeps me off my feet. The sense of YOU CAN DO ANYTHING, I feel it like a white-water raft. I could go here—I could take that bus—I could walk there—I could never sit down—I could eat whatever I want.
It’s so pleasant to feel these things, this strong. Like sitting down after a long, long hike. Like breaking a long fast with an extra-olive-oil pesto sandwich. Like taking a shower after cleaning the whole house. It feels intense.
But. The thing is it’s all an internal two-way street.
I get a hyper-dose of happiness; then things fall apart. I get an equally hyper-dose of insecurity.
It hits me like a torrent of rain when I’m biking somewhere special.
I’ll be sitting under a tree on the summit of Mt. Eden, an ancient volcano that stands guard over Auckland. The grass around me is soft and sweet, the wind a bit chilly but it makes me stay here, in the present. My mind can’t wander to some far-off dream.
I get these waves, these intense waves of you’re-not-good-enough, you’ve-got-no-self-control, you’re-so-ignorant, crashing down against my armor. They’re-all-right-about-you, they-all-hate-you-for-good-reason wields a bazooka against my castle fortress. You’re-too-proud-to-learn. I crash into myself, a little black hole that swallows my sense of self.
I swallow myself in nostalgia, looking back at pictures and thinking: man, I was so much happier/skinnier/faster/kinder back then. I get swept into nostalgic self-unsteadying. Thinking that somehow the Josie of the past, this Josie who apparently “had it all” is an entirely different creature who lived. That who she was, I’ll never be. Bizarre, eh? She’s me! I’m her!
But I feel it, I feel it so strongly. It colors my vision and clouds my reality and my perception of myself follows down the rabbit hole. Bleak.
I feel loneliness, too, in that concentrated dosage. Not the traditional sense; it’s not that I crave companionship. I love being alone, I love solitude, I would take an entire day alone to company any day. Even company I like. I would just rather be alone. Me and myself and my thoughts. I’ve got the full-force of my empathy. I’m like an only child and my own parent at the same time.
What I am afraid of is not that I’ll never get companionship, it’s that I’ll never want companionship. What I desire is to want to be with people, the people who inspire my stories, who teach me short-cuts to where I want to go, who show me different ways of thinking and being. I want to want to be with those people.
And man, is that fear concentrated here. When I get home after a shift of being around people, and I want to slam the door in little 7-year-old Samu’s face as he walks in wanting to show me a new toy he got that day. LEAVE ME ALONE, I long to shriek. I WANT TO BE ALONE.
I don’t, of course, shriek this; I let him show me the toys, keep my face absolutely blank and my body language rigid, hoping that he gets the point and grows bored of my non-interest.
He leaves, and I curl up and feel the weight of loneliness. My version of loneliness; sad and desperate that I feel I’ll never want to be with people.
I feel injustice stronger than ever before—just read “Transmitting a Different Reality”. I feel aimlessness (which I sometimes enjoy, you can read here), I feel purposelessness (not as fun) I feel hunger (metaphysical and tangible).
Things fall apart, things come together.
I feel peace, happiness, helpfulness, security, home.
I’m thankful and overwhelmed at the same time. In any given day, my system will flood with RADIANT JOY then switch to RAGING SELF-DOUBT then BLISSFUL PEACE then extreme tiredness.
No wonder I can’t seem to stay awake after like…9:15. So much is happening, I’m taking in so much information, feeling so many different things.
I feel these emotions deeply—both the good and the bad—and I am thankful for it. It has given me the chance to probe at what helps. What can be done? What makes it…better?
I’ve been chanting the buddhist teaching, things fall apart, things come together. That has led me to one word. One single word that can help stabilize, to a degree, the intensity.
This is all temporary.
All of it is only temporary. Only ever temporary.
Our lives, whether we spend them traveling or not: temporary. Our emotions, which lead to perceptions, which lead to our reality: temporary.
This heightens the highs, time limits make things more precious. It cools down the lows, because I can be afraid right now if I remember that I won’t be afraid forever.
It gives me a sense of perspective.
This is nothing new, right? The stoics went to funerals often to remind themselves of the fleeting human life.
It doesn’t remove it entirely, I don’t know if there is such a magic fix to that. Life is just one practice after another, constantly evolving mantras, self-talk, goals. Sometimes we’re drowning and sometimes we realize we were actually flying.
You’re not alone.
It’s all temporary.
Peace and blessings,