Who teaches you to come back?

Travel—it’s a common theme these days. So many of the inspirational posts doing the rounds these days are about letting go of the vagaries of life and travelling.

Travel to your heart’s content. Travel until your feet can’t move anymore. Travel until your heart expands to fit the whole world in. And then, travel some more, they say.

It’s a beautiful concept. And travel one must.

But who will teach you to come back home?

Home with it’s chores and daily schedules. Who will remind you of their urgencies and the reason why you withstood the painpoints?

Home with it’s shackles and binds, heating your skin up that was, until a split second ago, cold from the breeze blowing against you on the tall cliff.

Home with it’s dull grey skies and polluted city centres, where only the young and foolish think they’re free. Wasn’t it not too long ago until you were one of those?

Home, where the parties have come to an end and the after-parties only rise and ebb in the chorus of the sonorous snores.

Home, where the 5.00 am alarm rings you, and you don’t jump out, excited about chasing the sun rise from the east. No, instead you drag your feet to the bathroom and drape yourself in the anonymity of dreary clothes.

Where all texts you get are from colleagues and a handful of friends left in the drainage pipe, ready to ride away the time train. Not, from friends made a few minutes back, making excited plans to discover a pristine hidden beach or get up close to a tall mountain peak.

No. How do you get back?

When all you’re faced with is the list of compromises you made to stabilize reality. When you have to relive the decisions—the friends cut off, the people you retain; the habits newly formed at the behest of old ones gone. Everything that formed the new skin you sew for yourself over time, shedding bits and pieces of the old one again and again, minutes and hours at a time.

Will you agree with each of those?

Would you take the time to mourn what you left behind long before you travelled? But adhere to what’s left?

Or will you rethink your life, change the compromise that’s no more comfortable, and chase after what you decided to leave behind?

How do you answer all your questions about yourself, the people and the world around you, when all you’re expected to do is be normal…again?

And so, you escape. You relive your travels again and again in your mind, avoiding the realities unfolding before your eyes. You forget the life you’re living, and love the past, holding onto it with a desperate vigour, all the while being painfully aware that those memories are fading.

Going, going…. Gone.

There. Now you’re back to reality.

Or are you?

No gain without pain

Spain is my first solo travel. Until now, I’ve only traveled in groups, barring a few day-trips when I studied in the UK. It reached a point where I realized I am not too happy in a group. Such trips have always left me wanting a little more. I still had an unidentified craving left, even after spending two-three weeks on vacation.

I figured, maybe… Just maybe, I’m meant for solo travel instead. So, I jumped onto the idea of traveling in Spain without a second thought the moment opportunity arose. And more importantly, spent no moment waiting (or asking) for company. I wanted to do it alone. (Sorry, friends and family!)

Before the trip, I was both excited and nervous. Most people asked me to be cautious. Even my own sister who’s back-packed across Europe asked why I’m traveling alone. But I had decided, and there was no going back. I packed the nerves along with the rest of my belongings. It didn’t help that my trip started on a not-so-great note. My flight was terribly delayed and I missed my connecting flight.

It’s been eight days in the country so far, and I already feel like I’ve grown heaps. This place has given me so many beautiful experiences. Solo traveling has been everything I dreamt so far.

But here’s the thing. It’s not always sunny. There will be moments when you’re down.

Like this:

Or this:

Or getting scalded by a hot pane during lunch.

The first is called the Hiker’s Knee. It’s not serious, thankfully. But it does mean you stay in bed for a day or so with R. I. C. E. — rest, ice, compression and elevation. And maybe some Ibuprofen or Combiflam. And so, despite the knee issue, this happened:

The second is a weird bruise on my thigh that’s been travelling with me since the start (maybe?). I have absolutely no idea what I bumped into, where or when. But it’s there, a colourful company. Thankfully, it doesn’t hurt.

But this isn’t surprising. You always have to pay up to get something in life. There are no free lunches.

So far, I’ve paid with things like rings and coats on ever single trip of mine. This time, since life is offering more, it’s asking for more sacrifices in return too.

That said, why it would take only one of my favourite pair of earrings, I don’t know. Heh.

Maybe there’s a special place where all these sacrifices and donations accumulate, a warehouse of sorts. Maybe this is where gifts from too! Who knows.

Drawing lines

I remember, as a kid, lines were the easiest to draw. Simply take a scale, measure the length required and draw.
Even then, many children got it wrong. I assumed that, caught up in drawing the line, they removed the pressure on the scale, which then moved in tandem.
At that time, I wondered, how could you mess up something as simple as drawing line?
Flash-forward to ‘reality’ as an adult. Lines are everywhere; and most usually, screwed up.
Imagine, each life is a hollow, transparent sphere. It’s a world in itself. These spheres intersect with each other.
The degree of intersection shows close the relationship is or how much effect you have on that life.
Now, every sphere has two other spheres inside — one stands for your private life at the core of your being, while the other (slightly bigger one) represents your personal life.
All these are separated, figuratively, by a single thin line — a boundary. This line helps keep unwanted elements out. It also jails you in.
Often, this line blurrs. Sometimes, it repels. Sometimes, it hardens. Many times, it weakens with time; you start letting people in.
Like the boundaries of most countries are a war-zone, these lines in your life are too. They are quite unstable.
Take a relationship between two people; there’s always a line separating their individual wants and needs. Often, this line is forgot, allowing you to fulfil the other’s wants. You compromise. Or is it a sacrifice?
Where’s the line that separates a compromise from becoming a sacrifice? When is it asking for space and when is it self-centered-ness?
These lines, in your personal relationships, are invisible and grossly misplaced. Finding where it lies, and where it should rightly lie, is one of adulthood’s biggest challenges.
And even once you have found it, it redrawn anew, enforcing it is a real test of wills. This struggle is ongoing — within yourself, your friendships, your love life, and all other relationships.
Reminds me of something my professor had once said:
“Freedom is never absolute. It is a constant power struggle, where two people determine whose freedom and needs are more important.”