Are you going on your own?
"Are you going on your own?" This is the most common question asked when I tell anyone that I am going travelling for 9 months. Some say it with a concerned look on their face, others tell me that it is impressive and that I am brave. Of course when travelling alone it pays to be meticulous in the planning to avoid situations that might be safe for two people but less desirable for one. However, aside from taking these obvious precautions, it did not occur to me that this detail would hold such significance to others. People go travelling alone all the time, so to me it seemed to be less an of bravery and more a matter of adequate planning. Planning comes quite naturally to me but I know other planner types that would not travel alone. So putting the ability to plan and the notion of bravery aside, I have been wondering if there is a certain type of person that can withstand travelling solo.
I have never traveled alone for a significant period of time so I cannot speak as an expert. But I have travelled on my own for shorter periods of time (e.g 2-4 weeks) and I have always enjoyed it. I know I will meet people, especially given that I will be practicing, studying and teaching yoga along the way, so I have never worried much about finding company. However the main appeal to me is the fact that I am out on my own. I get to choose how sociable I want to be. I get to spend time with me and, as an only child, that alone time is a comfortable and familiar feeling that I relish. In short, being alone is how I reenergise.
My ease with being alone is one of the reasons why I am drawn to Ashtanga yoga. Moving at my own pace through the Ashtanga Primary Series, rather than trying to match the pace of a led class, feels more nourishing for my body and mind. With the Ashtanga method you create space to get in tune with your mental and physical energy, both of which change every day. And you can still benefit from the collective energy of a group individuals who have each chosen to practice in the same room. That feels authentic to me. In Ashtanga we are interconnected, not interdependent. I think that is similar to life, although there are some obvious exceptions.
Throughout my adult life I have always been uncomfortable with dependency (I'm sure a shrink would have fun unravelling that). This does not mean that I shy away from connections, but I believe an over-reliance on external connections can leave us completely disconnected with ourselves, and I think a strong sense of self is what grounds us. Not self as in the ego, but self as in our true nature. In my experience it is impossible to know what is true if you cannot withstand, and in fact come to enjoy, solitude. Maybe that is where the bravery comes in. Because with some planning and the ability to be street smart, the only real danger with travelling alone is that you will actually meet yourself.
My answer to the question "are you going on your own?" has been a resounding "yes". I am travelling all on my own and I think I will be in good company :)