What does it mean to travel alone?

Posted by Samantha Corbett on 22 April 2014

The desire to travel alone is a quest for the self as much as it is a journey to see the world. Samantha Corbett explores what it means to ‘go solo’.

Jumping on the beach at sunset. Photo by Greg Elk

Solo on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam

There is a need in me to prove to everyone, including myself, that I can find my own path. That I can travel vast distances in the soliloquy of my own company and be alright. That I can see something beautiful and appreciate it on my own, without feeling the overwhelming need to have someone to share it with. In the end, there is something special about it being for my eyes only.

There is a need in me to embrace the fierce loneliness and independence that comes with single footsteps in the sand. To have that moment of realisation that actually, in the greater scheme of things, I am incredibly small. To stare out over vast dissipating planes and have the voice of Carl Sagan narrating through my head, ‘Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. Every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.’

To appreciate my own fragility and the quickening thought of my own mortality. To camp in the desert and stare at the stars – bright vessels of gas; the mystical, the unknown. To run my hand through cool waters and to admire the sleek silver of the mighty gorilla’s fur. To dance alone beneath the Aurora Borealis, a slow waltz to Explosions in the Sky. A celebration of the unknown – the humility to accept that some things are beyond our understanding, and with that, a commitment to questioning.

A quest of the self, selfish perhaps, but also something every human should pursue. Satisfaction of the soul, a sense of knowing one’s purpose, or maybe not. Perhaps an acceptance of not knowing; a state of change. A commitment to growth and a search for that moment of clarity, that elusive evening star. A need to climb tall mountains and to stand on the roof of the world.

Captured this lonely tree as I was walking up Lion’s Head

To seek out the forests of Tolkien; the dark, dense, sensual canopies of Grimm. To meet kindred spirits and people who will walk with me, however briefly, on my path. To learn from ancient medicine men and young children for whom every day is a fight not a right. To make a difference however minuscule and seemingly insignificant to the tiny suspended blue dot. If one flap of a butterfly’s wings can change the cosmos, what could one hand holding another do?

There is a need in me to tell stories. Other people’s tales and my own. To cultivate a story worth sharing. To sing loudly to a retro playlist and to scream in a deserted desert awakening the ghosts of abandoned ancient towns. To wander along cobblestone streets and immerse myself in times of old, in the inevitable truth of memento mori and the spider web threads of memory persistent – an impotent but enchanting comfort of old. To stare at my own reflection and smile. To dive into deep blue pools beneath tumbling falls. To hold the scaly perfection of the tiny cushion star and make a wish on a dandelion clock. To take pictures, framed by imperfect composition and the need to capture all.

There is a need in me to walk alone. To embrace my vulnerability and conquer it. To whistle along the Camino and to skinny dip in the Devil’s Pool. To tread lightly and to learn. To love and be loved. To love myself and my own company. To forget the fear and let go. To cry softly in a field of tall grass with the wind whistling through my hair. To learn the Icelandic word for dream and the real meaning of fernweh.

A quick snap on my phone of Cape Town at sunset

There is a need in me to explore and to see for myself, all the beautiful things in this world.

‘And there was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.’ – Jack Kerouac


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