Today I was alone most of the day. I sat out on the terrace and wrote. I managed to talk with a friend from the states and caught up on some emailing. The overwhelming feeling of the day was not joy or curiosity, but loneliness. The two women here with whom I’ll be co-leading were out all day and I was here, by my self, all day.
The first night was filled with so much adventure and now here I was in this beautiful place, surrounded by so much good and yet all I could feel was that I was alone.
Just about the time tears were coming I received an email from a friend who had traveled much of last year. Her words to me were timely and prophetic. She spoke about being present here in Spain and not to long for things back in the states. I wrote her immediately and told her these words were good for me because I was feeling lonely. She wrote again telling me that lonely is a part of it and to lean into the loneliness and explore what lies there.
So I decided that sitting around the house was not a good way to dive into the loneliness and I put on my walking shoes and walked about 14klm along the sea. The number of cultures that collide in this one tiny town is astounding actually. I heard so many languages. I saw so many varied bathing suits, some I’d like to forget, and watched as old and young played in one space. I’ve rarely experienced such diversity in one place. I had made up my mind to walk until the paseo ended and as I reached the end, was so struck by all who were gathered there.
I made my way home, having leaned into my loneliness and having worked up some endorphins, and felt ready to approach the remainder of my day. It was going to be good.
(I think in our own contexts we know how to avoid feelings we’d rather not experience. I know at times I do. So, just like I want to dive in and experience all that Spain has to offer, I too want to explore all that might be awaiting for me personally in the adventure. Perhaps the loneliness is very good for me? Perhaps the loneliness is my teacher of things I long for and fear? Perhaps I’ll feel lonely a lot? There is a lot of lonely when one is in a country where the language is not understood and where one constantly has to choose to engage from the outside. How do we actually work to include those around us who are different? How do I keep people on the outskirts by my language? These ideas continue to come up and sift through my mind as though they too are my teacher. )
I came home from my long walk on the beach and got ready for an evening out. Ariana had returned from her meetings and we had dinner plans at a pizza place near by. Ariana is gluten free and finding places that serve “sin gluten” can be difficult. She had talked this particular restaurant into making gluten free pizza with flour she provided. This night they were going to try it for the first time and we were going to eat it. Watching Ariana with the Spaniards reminds me of what it must be like to go places with me in the states. Somehow she knows everyone and has no fear when it comes to making friends with the locals. (I still believe that most people want new friends and want to be noticed and are simply a question or two away from becoming such, no matter in what culture one lives.)
I was able to order in Spanish, which made me very happy. Though I’m sure I sounded like a three year old, I was using words and forming thoughts to communicate, albeit broken. I felt quite content with myself as I sat down and exactly what I wanted showed up at the table a few minutes later.
Ariana and I had a lovely conversation as we sat out in the middle of the paseo. (The restaurants along the paseo line the walkway furthest from the shore. Most have seating inside and all have seating outside. Depending on the space and the bike path which runs alongside the restaurants, some have seating up against their shop and others have seating in the middle of the paseo, going in order shop, bike path, seating, walking path, shore line. It’s actually quite lovely.)
When sitting in the middle of the paseo, I feel as though I’m a part of everything up close and personal. I like being in the middle of everything. I like having life happen all around on every side. I can feel lonely in that place. Life everywhere and me simply observing it. But at this particular time, I did not feel lonely as much as I felt an invitation to risk in conversation. Was I going to tell Ariana that I was lonely all day? I had felt foolish for even feeling lonely. It was only my second day, how was loneliness so prevalent?
I decided to risk and share of my day and my fears and my thoughts. It was good for me. I breathed in the air of the sea and breathed out the internal dialogue of my mind.
Traveling is good. It is a lonely good. The lonely is a part of it. The lonely speaks to what is unseen and often ignored in the busy of life. I think I will feel alone often. I think this will be good for me.