Someone asked me a few weeks ago what do I do when I am alone… in a more introverted state… And I mentioned a couple of things… you know: like read, go for walks, draw, take photos. But it left me thinking, because one of the things that happen when I travel, invariably, is that I have a lot of time on my own to reassess where I am in my life, where I want to go, what are some of my goals for the future, etc (these thoughts are usually preceded by: “Holy crap! What am I doing in this foreign land, with weird customs, a language that I do not understand and for God’s sake, is it really that hard to make a good cup of coffee??”) Another constant in my travels is that I write, I write a lot. I sit alone at cafes, or in parks, or in restaurants, and I write… and write… and write. I feel that I am the most creative when I am traveling in a foreign place, most likely because it is a time when I am also the most vulnerable, questioning all my choices and being outside of my comfort zone.
Which brings me to Liberia. In Liberia, I have not felt anything. I am not feeling any of the usual creative juices, I do not have any original thoughts or insights. I have been creatively numb. Having such a strong group of friends, with whom I instantly connected with, and became attached to, has meant that if I wished to, all of my non-working hours could be spent in the company of other people, which is great! But it has also meant that I have been, at all times, externally stimulated… and it has smothered my own internal voice…
As my time in Liberia comes to an end I look back at these past 2 months and feel like I am missing something important from my time here. Being alone in a foreign land is hard, and writing and thinking and internalizing life becomes your coping mechanism… one that I have learned to cherish and look forward to… because even though it sucks to feel lost and lonely you emerge from the experience with a new sense of determination, cleansed. And I am missing that now… I am missing that internal struggle followed by the triumphal emergence from the ashes of self-evaluation and old assumptions.