In both readings, the narrators are deep in contemplative thought about what it means to travel by oneself. Is being in solitude lonely? Rewarding? Both? In the New Yorker piece, the narrator discusses her experience with wanting to travel without the use of photography because she wants to capture the moments through memories rather than experiencing it second-hand through a camera lens. This separates her from other travelers, leaving her alone in her thoughts of why she doesn’t particularly like taking photos or recording videos during her travels. In the book excerpt, the narrator is literally traveling alone and is in search of some enlightenment after feeling bored with her every day life. But unexpectedly, the solitude that she sought left her feeling even worse than before because it gave her too much time to think about her thoughts, and she eventually ended up missing her busy life.
I found these texts scarily relatable to my own life. I am someone who constantly craves solitude and feels the need to “break away” from the daily routine of life- so much so that I usually end up feeling like an outsider. But with this comes the worry that no one understands why I am alone/no one cares. Traveling alone seems like a great idea until I start to overthink my thoughts and start itching for connection to other thoughts and voices besides the ones in my head.
I wonder where people like me and the narrators can find balance. There has to be a way to travel alone without feeling lonely or too overwhelmed with overthinking. In the book excerpt, the narrator finds a way to drive herself away from her lonely cabin fever by spilling her thoughts onto paper. Because then, it’ll transfer onto another medium besides her brain. And while I feel that this works temporarily, it doesn’t fix the problem that people become very different when they are alone. There is no one to save them from any haunting thoughts, and there is no one to watch them when they are traveling to some unknown place.
The author David Foster Wallace was mentioned in the second piece, and he happens to be one of my favorite writers. Having taken an entire class on him my first semester of college, I learned that solitude was one of the worst things for him to be in, yet he thrived in it. The reason being that he was able to produce and create his work while alone, but his thoughts were so overbearing that he felt like a slave to them. He didn’t have much distraction away from them. And I think how a person experiences solitude says a lot about their mental health. Wallace’s was not strong at all, and neither were the two narrators’.
These two pieces made me wonder about how I will be when I travel alone this weekend, which is extremely coincidental because I am leaving on a whim and for a family emergency. But the trip before I get to the destination will be spent in solitude, and knowing that the destination might be quite sad, I am afraid that I will get lost in harmful thoughts since they are so easy to slip into. But perhaps I will think of these pieces and know that I am not alone in this way of feeling.