About a week ago a friend of mine (in person) casually asked “So, you spend a lot of time by yourself?” I caught myself laughing, because I really thought that the answer was “Not so much” but an instant later – after the thinking part of my brain kicked in – I realized that duh, I do spend a lot of time by myself.
In some sense that answers the question of whether I feel lonely on the road solo. I don’t. There are occasions when I miss specific people or want to be more social, but I realized early on that those occasions are simply signs that I should reach out to people I miss and strike a better balance between social time and solitude.
The latter was a hard lesson that I quickly learned in early January, when after a week of isolation in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge I felt lonely for the first time I remember. Ever. My brain juice is naturally configured in a lucky way such that I don’t typically experience strong negative emotions. That “feeling lonely” thing was a big deal. And I did something about it.
Aside from the obvious “do a better job of balancing social time with solitude” I recognized that there was something additional I craved: being around people who inspire me and who I inspire, in the realms of things I care about.
I love to juggle. I’m really good at it. I can be incredibly social, but unless I’m in a big city it’s unlikely that I’ll find quality jugglers around. Same goes for a particularly free-spirited Burner-esque dancer type. They’re around, but only a handful of cities have flourishing alternative scenes.
The solution I came up with was to teach at juggling festivals and attend regional Burning Man events, with approximately one such event scheduled each month. So far that has been wonderfully successful. It has led to an unusual fixedness in my nomadic route over the coming months, but it has also delivered a gift of deep connections with like-minded and inspiring people. Since that few-day blip in January I’ve been back on the emotionally even-keeled course that I’m used to, and my plan is working well.
Apparently I’m some weird combination of Desert Solitaire and a festival-goer. And I like it.