“Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.”
— Paul Tillich, German Philosopher
For most of the past three years, I have traveled the world on my own and, yes, some days I wake up dreading another day alone. I am a social person. I miss my family and friends at home, and I love traveling as a team. So why do I keep traveling the world alone?
Sculpture in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
I love taking photographs when I travel, but I am selective about it because cameras can make you an outsider, an observer instead of a participant. One thing I like about having a camera is that, even if I don’t use it, I pay a little more attention to the details.
My “real” home in California
In traditional cultures, where you live is a big part of who you are. Many Americans, on the other hand, tend to view our communities as way stations to somewhere else. Most of us leave home at an early age and don’t return to raise our kids in the communities where we grew up. As we age, many of us move again for economic reasons or to be with the grandchildren our children are raising somewhere else. Continue reading
Like most parents of active boys, I got a few phone calls from school over the years. Remembering them, I usually laugh. He stole a potato chip from Emily! But one of them still turns my stomach. When I was at work one day, the principal of Gabe’s school called to say Gabe had been “acting up” all week whenever his teacher read aloud to the class. This wasn’t Gabe’s usual venue for mischief so after a few minutes on the phone I asked what book the teacher was reading.
When someone asks me what I do for fun, I usually don’t mention that I play bridge. I mention travel and writing, horseback riding and hiking, hanging with friends and family. If I told them I played bridge, they might think that I am old and frumpy, which I kind of am, and that I am not very cool. Continue reading
When I was in Greece this year, a well-intended young Greek woman told me that my adopted Muslim daughter, Nahid, should not wear a hijab if she wants to be accepted in Greece. I guess I wasn’t surprised at her comment but it gave me something to think about. Continue reading
Every year, the Berkeley-based non-profit, Ethical Traveler, announces its Top Ten most ethical places to travel in the developing world. This year, the winners include Uruguay, Micronesia, and Mongolia. http://ethicaltraveler.org/ The goal of Ethical Traveler is “to use the economic clout of tourism to protect human rights and the environment.” Its Top Ten countries get high marks for these attributes and it encourages us to visit them for that reason.
Wow, I am down with using travel to protect human rights and the environment. But I am not convinced the best way to do that is to go to the places that have good human rights and environmental records.
When I decided to leave a great job and a wonderful San Francisco apartment last year to travel solo around the world, the first reaction I got from most people was “wow, you are courageous.” I think this was actually a polite way of saying “wow, you are a little crazy.”