I hate people.
I’ve said it many, many times, while sitting in traffic, while scrolling through Facebook, while watching reality TV, while being stepped on and ran into in crowds. I hate people.
I believed it for a long time, too. If only I could just get away from everyone. If only I could just be alone. And then I decided to travel the world by myself.
In the three months I’ve traveled alone I’ve come to realize the importance of people.
It started very early on in my trip during my workaway experience in Italy. As I sat around a full table with people I’d just met and yet felt like a part of a family, I pictured doing everything I’d done up until that point alone. I realized that it wasn’t the places I’d seen, but rather the people I was with that created the vivid, happy memories.
And then, as I sat feeling miserable and awkward in a room in Austria, I longed for someone to complain to, someone to share the horrible moment with, to not be alone.
And then, as I sat in the pitch black on a beach in southern Iceland watching the Northern Lights with an unlikely group of people put together by chance, or more likely fate, I began to realize the magic in sharing moments with someone.
And then, as I sat in on a beach in Thailand enjoying a beer with two friends I’d made on the other side of the planet just months before, laughing so hard my stomach felt like it might explode, I felt at home.
And then, floating on my back 20 meters under water, watching the sun streak through the turquoise ocean as a school of fish swam over me, I looked around at my dive buddies and made the hand signal for “fucking awesome” and pointed up, and they all responded with the same, I knew this moment would connect us for the rest of our lives.
And then, yesterday, as I sat on the beach alone watching the sun set I started crying.
There were dark rain clouds on the horizon. The sun was streaking through them the way I picture Jesus coming to earth.
There were three guys playing cards while enjoying a beer. There was a couple play-splashing each other in the water. There was a guy throwing a Frisbee with his black lab. There were three or four people scattered here and there reading on their backs.
It was all so stupidly ordinary and beautiful. I was smiling and crying.
How terribly lonely and sad it would be without all of these people, I thought. (Even the white guy with the dreadlock ponytail sticking out of his visor. Even the pair of girls wearing so little it made me embarrassed for them. Even the Asian 1837372 taking selfies with her selfie stick.)
They weren’t with me, but we were sharing the moment together. And isn’t that beautiful? That all of these strangers and I share a memory together?
I think it’s beautiful. I think it’s something close to magic or art.
Yes, people are the key. Find your people and keep them close to your heart. And keep your heart open to more people, always.