Koh Tao is easing me in. She bundled me up, busily sat me down and gave me a quick lecture about leaving business behind. And I couldn’t help but listen. If you decide to ever meet her, know her ocean will melt your worries away, the same as any ocean, wherever in the world you are. I love that the sea has no beginning, and no end. And when I dip my toes in, they touch the same salty water that shoulders countries far, far away. Something about that salt water just heals… inside and out.
I’m not sure what I expected this whole ‘travelling solo’ thing would be like. I’m not sure if I expected it would be easy, or that I would get through it unscathed, but it’s raw and real and confronting. It’s challenging. I hadn’t really thought about what it would mean for me, or what I had wanted it to mean.
I’m not sure if I thought I would be scooped up by another world, another realm, another place and time. Or if I thought that I would get on a plane and leave part of myself behind. Perhaps, ever so slightly, I had romanticised the notion of wandering the world, with all my worldly possessions strapped to my back finding fresh friendly faces on every corner.
It’s hot and sticky. My feet are blistered, and sore. A pack, no matter how light, is heavy when carried for a distance by a body not used to exercise, a body aching from sitting for half its life or more. There are bruises. The sun belts fiercely, and the sweat soaks my skin and clothes.
But my feet are toughening again (I hadn’t even realised they’d lost their callouses). My body is creaking out of misuse, and beginning to limber. Muscles I’d forgotten I had are wearily waking. And as I stretch myself out it hurts, but it feels amazing – pleasure and pain. It feels like I’m coming back to life – slowly, slowly.
And as the days are unfolding, I’m finding this space that is calm. There is no race. I can take my time. It’s a space where I am settling into myself and finding some semblance of peace with the fact that for now, it’s just me. And that is really no different to life at home, for any of us. It is ourselves we ultimately answer to. Ourselves we must first honour, before we can truly honour another. Ourselves, and only ourselves, we cannot run or hide from.
This is no different. My aloneness is amplified, perhaps, by the fact there is nobody else at this point to share the moments with. But in all honesty, it’s perfect. There are fleeting encounters with random strangers, idle conversations in passing, smiles from across rooms, glazed drunken looks and promises. And at each fork, each offer, each invitation – I can say yes, or no. And based entirely on my intuition, I can experience life – in the moment.
Doors will open, and close. New friends will come, and go. And at the end of it all, it will still be me.
So I went to the beach today and I took with me all my expectations, spoken and unspoken. I took the myriad of excuses and hurts I carried with me and I let the sea wash them away to the deep dark depths that only she knows. And there they lay. And I let her fill me with her emptiness, and wipe clean a slate for the kind of solitude I need and want right now. I embraced it, as it embraced me. I decided at that moment, to stop searching and start living – a simple life perhaps, but a good life. A life I have dreamed of for a very long time.