When I first started meeting people who have been traveling for like 18 months, at first I was judgmental.
What are you running from? That’s what I wanted to ask these people.
One of the many, many great things I’ve learnt from Bob Ellis is the idea of a witness. Someone who is your closest friend for a short time. Friend is not even the right word. The word IS witness, someone who can testify who you are for a certain time and a certain place. And that’s it. On the road for 18 months, sometimes more, how would you know anyone other than witnesses?
What are you running from?
Has something hurt you in your life? Was your old life so bad? Did you run the routine life into the ground? Do you just love the unknown?
Here’s the thing that changed my mind about it. With maybe less than a half a dozen exceptions, it seems I don’t have much more than witnesses myself. And in most cases, the people who knew me best, who knew me intensely, for a night or a couple of years, they are not with me.
So maybe if you ever meet one of these people, somewhere, and ask them about me, they can tell you who I was, back in a time and place. But I’m not the person they know, and they aren’t the person I know.
I came across a photo today of someone I used to know. For a year or two, we knew eachother better than any other human beings known us. I think she’s married now, and I’m not even sure. She got sick a while back, and I don’t know with what. She doesn’t know where I am, I doubt.
And I have to say, the memory hurt. I’m not unhappy to be faraway from that. And part of me, a big part, just wanted to run. For god sakes, stick me in a forest somewhere in remote South America. Or Holly Golightly in the desert with strangers. Hide me in a hostel in a European city, one that is the same as hundreds like it. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to deal with it. No connections. Just witnesses.
And I’ll tell you just enough about me so you don’t have to think about me again. And no more.
In a world where you basically can’t be a hermit anymore, I think the best alternative is to pass through people’s lives at such awesome speed that you leave no trace. You don’t have to be the Invisible Man, when you can be the Flash.
What are YOU running from?