It’s been a rather strange fifth month. One of the perks of traveling alone is the ability to go and do what you want, when you want, for however long you want. I am fortunate to have saved up enough to allow me to truly do just that. I don’t want to take a 24 hour bus ride and instead take a flight for 4-5 times the price? Sure. That restaurant looks expensive? Don’t care. In this trip I feel a level of freedom that I have never felt before. While this kind of freedom to do almost anything I desire can bring an immense sense of power, it has instead made me much more empathetic to others.
When I was in Japan for the first time, tears came down my eyes unexpectedly. Back then, I thought it was because I was making a dream come true. I love to travel, and Japan was always at the top of my list of places to go to. I hadn’t visited earlier in my life because I was pleasure-delaying. I figured the tears were of finally fulfilling that long delayed desire, but since then I’ve cried three more times—for no reason. Once I started noticing the spontaneous tears, I tried to reflect and figure out what was going on. I could find no problems but just a huge sense of absolute happiness. These emotional moments have occurred when music plays. I’ve noticed that now that I have zero real stress, my emotions are easy to manipulate with music. After thinking lots on the recurring emotional anomaly, I have found the deeply buried cause of my tears: guilt.
I have always considered myself a happy person. I’ve had mood swings here and there like everyone else, but my base-line is happiness and optimism. This is still the case, but now I’m capable of reaching higher peaks of happiness than before. I’m currently making my dreams come true with this journey, something I’ve planned for many years. Its execution is far better than I could’ve imagined. It is something I wish I could share with everyone I love and even with people I just barely know. I love hearing from people back home and from new people I’ve met during my travels. I hear about their problems in their life, and I wish I could whisk them away and bring them with me. Some of those people are going through legitimate hard times. From not being able to spend a birthday with a loved one; to leaving a country for a better life and end up alone feeling like they’re moving backwards in life; and the hardest, to lose a loved one to cancer. Through many of these hardships of my friends and loved ones, it has been incredibly difficult to be there for them. It’s hard to say: I’m so sorry for what you’re going through and I wish I could be there for you, but I can’t because I’m having the time of my life. It’s incredibly difficult, and I feel awful. This has made me feel guilty and made me think of returning home many times. I worked and sacrificed for this journey, but I was also extremely lucky and fortunate in many ways that were out of my control. Yet, I somehow don’t feel selfish for moving forward, just guilty that my friends and loved ones have hardships that I can’t take away, remedy, or help in some minuscule way such as giving a simple hug.
I have met so many beautiful people trying to find their way in this moment we call life—before and during the trip. All of the people I have ever met have touched me in some way, whether positive or negative and those encounters have made me the person I am today. To all: I am sorry I can’t be there for you the way that I should, the way that you deserve. As much as it pains me and brings me to tears while I write this, this is something I have to do. Hopefully, one day, when I see you again, if you allow me, I’ll be there for you.
P.S. I listened to You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban while I wrote this.