Details of Life on the Road: Street eats, cheap sleeps, budget travel experiences

Saying Goodbye And Dealing With Post-Farewell Blues

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Saying goodbye, it’s never really fun. With each new friendship comes yet one more farewell. Saying goodbye, it get’s old quickly. Does it ever get easier? No. I don’t think so. On the contrary, it sometimes becomes more difficult with each farewell – especially the goodbyes you don’t want to say. Despite knowing that goodbyes will be said and that life goes on, that I’ll be on my own again, and that I’ll meet new people that I’ll equally enjoy spending time with, the goodbyes don’t get easier. Even though I tell myself that I must move on and experience new things – rather than staying with friends I’ve just met and that I enjoy so much – the decision to do so never gets easier.

As I was driven down and out of the driveway from where I was recently volunteering in Kotadenityawa, Sri Lanaka, my lips pressed together and sucked in towards my teeth, my face cringing and tears forming in my eyes, I felt a bit torn. How have I formed such meaningful relationships in just 4 days? I’ve merely met these strangers, these friends. As I drove away, I held back a tear; I thought of all the goodbyes I’ve said and of the many more that would soon be spoken. I thought of all of the “see you in ‘X country’” talks that will never be followed through, of all of the faces I’ll never see again. Now, don’t get me wrong, of course we can see each other again, but people forget about each other, become disconnected, and get on with their lives. As I was driven out of the driveway and out onto the main road my sadness vaguely subsided and I knew that all was okay. I was alone again, but am okay. I’m on the road, embarking on a new journey and it’s not all that bad. I’ll have new experiences, eat new food, meet new people, and do everything that I have been doing, ghosts of former travelers’ words and faces happily accompanying me.

I’m going to get slightly off track for couple of paragraphs. I’ve always promoted solo travel, for both males and females alike. I think there are numerous benefits to traveling by one’s lonesome only. You get to know yourself, you make your own rules, your confidence increases, you learn how to navigate, you become more resilient, you become more independent, you learn how to trust (though it’s sometimes difficult), you learn to always be on your toes all the while being relaxed and standing flatfooted, you learn to express yourself in new ways, you learn to not be dependent on whoever is close to you, you can do what you want to do when you want to do it, and you search to find yourself, maybe consciously or subconsciously. But, what if you’ve already spent years working on yourself and becoming who you are? What if you recognize the benefits of traveling with another person? What if you want to share the rules making process? What if you want to become more independent with someone else by your side? What if you recognize the cons of traveling solo such as becoming lonely, not being able to share your happiness or another’s happiness, not being able to share a meal with someone, to share their love, their interests, their everything? Not having someone to hug at your leisure. Sure, we can share meals with others, share happiness, and stories, and thoughts, and receive hugs, but perhaps with someone new all of the time, rather than with that person, that person you could be traveling with.

And so, at this point in my life, and in my travels, I’m not sure which I enjoy more: traveling solo, or traveling with a friend. When I think back, it seems to me that many of the best of times of my traveling life have been when my happiness has been shared, when laughs have been shared. This being said, choose your travel partner wisely. I suppose I now think so highly of traveling with a friend because I’ve traveled with the correct people, but usually only for short periods of time, from two days to two weeks. But maybe, after all, traveling solo is best for I wouldn’t have had the same opportunities to travel with random others if I was always with the person or group. But, imagine the connections and stories you would rack-up with that person or group! However, I’ve managed to compile many a story as is. I suppose that traveling solo allows me to meet these wonderful people and then to travel with them for short periods of time and for our lives to join and briefly become one. I still promote, and dearly love solo travel.

Now, back to what I first started saying. So, how does one deal with saying goodbye? You remember that you’re going to meet hoards of other great people, likely within the next few days; that life goes on; that you enjoy traveling; that some foods are perfect how they are – bittersweet; that (some) things are meant to be; that you can keep in contact with said friends; that you’ll always have your memories; that more good things will come – You must remember that more good things will come; that you’ve been here before and you’ll be here again; that you’ll be okay, and that they’ll be okay, and that life will, once again, resume and go on as it has been this whole time, prior to meeting your beautiful new friends.

It’s silly of us, though. Despite possessing this knowledge and experience, once we are embraced in the arms of a new friend, our smiles received by each other, our eyes maintaining a sincere hold, we forget what we have learned, and for a few minutes after saying goodbye we must re-learn it and remember it all again.

Indeed, saying goodbye is one of the most difficult aspects of travel, one that often gets overlooked and unseen. When one thinks of traveling and its difficulties and downfalls, saying goodbye may not come to mind. But, it’s real and it’s something that you’re going to have to deal with.

I received eight hugs the day I wrote this post. I’m happy about that. They were all well received and crucial to my well-being. I recently heard that one must embrace in five hugs each day to maintain sanity, emotional well-being, completeness. Well, I’m definitely under quota, but on that day I was okay.

I’m listening to Alan Parson’s ‘Eye in the Sky’ right now and so everything I’m writing seems to me to be much more profound, enlightening, and emotional than it really is – as does everything else when listening to music. The simplest of acts is enhanced substantially when music is involved.

This post is dedicated to all those who I have traveled with, most recently through Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. You know who you are. Thank you.

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