I once read a quote by Jean-Paul Sartre – “If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company”. And that made me halt.
I’m not sure exactly when and how the idea of travelling alone took seed in me, but I distinctly remember the longing to travel alone, as far as I can remember. I don’t know what or who was my inspiration behind the idea, but I realize now, in hindsight, that it is one adventure I’m proud of.
I wasn’t even sure of what I was expecting. I just knew one thing, that I would like to find out, what is it that I do, when I’m left by myself, without influences of love and well-meaning intentions of other attachments; without the burdens of expectations, without the loving yet prying eyes, without the questions about ‘what next’, without the pressure of “carpe diem”, without any judgements, without any co-ordinations, to just be as I would like to be.
And no, I wasn’t waiting for any great epiphany to happen. Neither did one occur. Yet it somehow was a surreal experience for me. One that added on to the whole, that made me happier, that made me love myself more, that made uninterrupted conversations with self a possibility.
What helped me was a couple of suggestions from my father.
– Keep away all the timepieces, and just be. – I loved this one, the idea of being in timelessness. I’m a person who is punctual and always on schedule. Yes, I make plans to plan! So, this idea freed me in ways I cannot explain. The freedom of sleeping and eating when I felt like it and not because it was the designated time. Just being, just doing what I felt like doing at that moment. The ease of just being by myself. Nothing to coordinate with anyone else.
– Disconnect to connect – I did not read any news or What’s App for the duration of my break. One phone-call a day to my family to report that I’m still alive was all that I allowed myself. Freedom from the routine, also meant that I free my self from the claws of my phone and the various social media distractions that it comes with. I did not want to miss any moment and regret that later.
Choosing solitude over the endless other exciting possibilities may not be the easiest, however, it surely shall be rewarding in the end. It doesn’t have to be all tough & heavy and about facing your demons. It can simply be a gift to self, some time to enjoy your own company.
It is when you stop listening to all the noise from outside, that the dialogue with self begins, the voice that we may all be found guilty of avoiding. Just start that conversation with self and let’s see how long can you hold it for. A sher by Gulzar goes as – “Apne auron se kaha sab kuch, hum se bhi kuch kabhi keh dete.” Maybe our soul also is just waiting for us to talk to ourselves with all the love & attention we possibly give to everyone else. A holiday alone thus, can result in being a great exercise in self-love!
I truly believe, that by not being with ourselves, we are just procrastinating the face-off with the moment of truth that shall catch up with us sooner or later. Those who avoid being alone at all costs might come out pleasantly surprised. Whether you introspect, analyze, evaluate your life, your surroundings, a decision, or whatever it may be, I do think a holiday alone will benefit immensely.
While solitude can be appreciated every day, a holiday alone takes you out of your comfort zone, challenges you, and makes you understand yourself better. When you remove yourself from the everydayness of matters, you get a macro view of life and a micro view of yourself. You might get to know what matters the most. Maybe that is why, most creative people seek solitude and travel to seek inspiration.
There is another sher that reads as – “vo jo humme tumme qaraar thaa, tumhein yaad ho ke naa yaad ho, vahi yaani vaada nibhaah kaa tumhein yaad ho ke naa yaad ho”. Translation – “That steadiness we had between us, you might remember or you might not;
That promise of staying together, you might remember or you might not”
Instead of only making promises to our loved ones, why not make one promise to ourselves? A promise, to build a stronger, healthier relationship with self. To give time and attention to self! To bask in the glory of our own company!
My personal experience of h0lidaying alone has been therapeutic; in fact, almost cathartic in some ways. The realization that I’m happy by myself, made me feel empowered and independent like never before. It helped me understand my relations with loved ones better as well. In the end, all I can say is, I was happy in the company I had and would gladly choose it all over again.