I’m putting out a call for artists, writers, photographers, filmographers, general wanderers…people with a vision to live for today, and build a future to remember. I know I’m being vague, but if you want to turn your sense of adventure into art, music, words, whatever it is you do – or if that’s what you already do – message me! Trust me; it’s worth getting involved.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about taking a normal part of your life that you drive, and walk it instead of driving. You can read the post here, which went into a little bit of depth about the small space of time that walking provides, and the breath of discovery with which it will fill your lungs. You’ll find new things, maybe meet new people, and definitely enjoy the whiz of cars as they rush past you at your gentle walking pace.
There is, however, one thing that perhaps seems a downside to taking time to walk: you will probably be walking alone. ALONE is a fairly scary word to most of us. It seems we dread it, and I think even the extreme introvert would suffer being truly without other humans. The presence of other people is something we were meant to crave, and the fulfillment we get from being part of a community – even if it’s just one other person – is entirely satisfying…possibly even relaxing. And even as you walk, you won’t be alone. You’ll have your phone, or your iPod for music, or the knowledge that someone wants you, and those are all great, incredible things to have.
There is, however, a difference between the aloneness you experience in the few minutes you could take to walk to work, and another feeling that you may have experienced when someone else leaves you; abandoned. When another person, or several other people, leave you behind or desert you, that is when you feel truly alone; abandoned, deceived, betrayed, deserted, forsaken, jilted. I know there are probably some of you who have never felt this way, but for the majority of people, I feel safe to say you have felt with some strength an aloneness that only comes when a person you trust, rely on, or love just…leaves. It’s the only aloneness that really matters, isn’t it? That, I think, is the aloneness that we all fear, because in that aloneness, we are left with nothing but ourselves. When someone abandons you, you are suddenly hit with the fact that you are a solitary person by yourself. And that is scary.
But let me be one to challenge that fear, and say that aloneness, in spite of how hurtful and horrifying it is, can actually be a good thing. If you took my challenge to go for a walk, you may have noticed some things that are hardly present in the rest of life: your own thoughts. Your thoughts on the life around you, the whizzing cars and the people you passed and the sounds. So much can be experienced through a single sound, and being alone really helps you to experience each and every sound, thought, and emotion on your own and – more importantly – as your own.
In my experience of abandonment, when someone leaves you, you’re left with just those thoughts. There is the pain of betrayal, but there is also the opportunity to truly explore who you are, and what you think. Without the presence of another individual, the world becomes your own as you view it. If you went for a walk, you probably felt a little bit of this; when I walked to work the other day, I felt the cold swish of air with each passing car, and the different textures of the concrete sidewalk, and the smells of the donut shop that ended up luring me into its doors. While I may have experienced these things had I been walking with someone else, I don’t think I would have attached myself to them so prominently had I not been completely alone.
So let me leave you with a challenge: next time you are abandoned, embrace it. Feel what it’s like to be alone, without people, living life and adventuring by yourself, and remember that feeling. You may have to push through some pain, but the knowledge of yourself and a love the world around you will be so rewarding. In fact, double-challenge: not only should you walk to work tomorrow, but you should walk to work the day after that person abandons you, and every day after that…just so you can begin each day as your own person, with your own world of cars and concrete sidewalks and donut shops in which you can thrive.
Even if it means you thrive alone.