Sitting on a beige brown seat, a stripe amongst the interlacing and repeating brown and beige-brown stripes of seats, inside boarding gate D40.
D40.. The boarding gates had always been to me a figure stored in my short-term memory then quickly disposed of once I had entered and it was no longer necessary. To me, they were just a number-shaped arrows, directors marking where we should go. Today is different, though.
It seems that when I am alone, I become hyper-sensitive. I become hyper-aware. I notice the ang moh I sat beside waiting outside the boarding gate. I remember consciously deciding to wait till I enter the gate before whipping out my laptop to type this post. In between, I read James Potter and The Hall of Elders Crossing. (really an intricate plot with the constant dispensation of small nuggets that form stepping stones for the main plot) I see the air stewardesses striding down the hall and boarding the plane first. I notice that they have red tapes marking a section for priority customers. I notice a precocious boy who, travelling only with his domestic helper, knows what is a boarding gate and a boarding pass–a sign of his independence. He is like me, just 10 years early.
My heart bubbles with a skippety skippety song. So this is what it feels like to travel alone. Perhaps not so big a deal after all, probably like one of the endless commutes I would make if I would study or live overseas. This is the life of the nomad, the traveller, the globe-trekker. How soon, I wonder, would such a sense of excitement fizz away, and be replaced with an emotion we rarely like to associate with?
Jesus once said–I am a man of many sorrows, acquainted with grief. Perhaps Jesus also felt lonely.. because loneliness doesn’t merely occur in the physical realm. We can be in a big group, yet feel lonely. We can be alone, but yet feel wholly connected and significant and alive. Loneliness has to do with the emotional state, not the physical state. Yet sometimes those who are physically lonely are emotionally lonely as well. Loneliness is a disease, because the more lonely we feel the more we feel we don’t deserve the connection and the togetherness.
Just arrived back from Taiwan last night, and oh how I hate returning. I felt a sickening jolt in my stomach and from the recesses of my mind I associate it with the period of sluggishness I felt after returning from London in January. Seeing new things, experiencing new things.. In my heart I wished that that novelty would never die. I wished that one day I would buy a one way ticket rather than a return one.
I guess I am afraid of reality, because reality is full of challenges. When we travel we escape from the current reality and plop ourselves in a stasis. The author of James Potter has really interesting and even scientific theories about magical phenomena. He says that disapparating is a process that takes time. From the moment that you disapparate and when you re-apparate, it is a matter of a few seconds. However, it is an instantaneous process for the wizard that is apparating. I would see travel as the same thing. For the traveller, it seems you are sucked away into an alternate dimension, yet outside the funnel you are in, life goes on. The rest of the people you have touched and encountered throughout your lives move on, and time itself goes on. However, for the individual, it is as if time has stopped and recontinues when you reappear–when your return flight touches down.
I feel that we are all chameleons–constantly evolving, as we clamber through the various environments of life, we absorb, we secrete, we morph. Every unique experience shapes us, chips at us, and, for better or for worse, we are constantly changing. There is a philosophical idea that the person we are is the product of our experiences. As a young boy grows into the old man, the young boy and old man are two different people, yet the old man is the young boy because he remembers that experience, but the young boy is not the old man because he has not quite experienced the magnitude of what the old man has, yet. They are numerically identical, yet not qualitatively so. Life is no different from a production line–we undergo various treatment, being heated and boiled over, to be thickened and stirred and centifuged. Each and every of this experiences adds to us a unique texture-that no two individuals can ever be exactly the same. I may be as chewy and ‘Q’ as pearls, and you soft and yielding like sponge cake.
…I did not write any more, because at that point the European air steward gave me a steely glance and told me to keep my phone away.
But off I was to Bali and the person that came back was not quite the same.