Happiness Is Only Real When Shared
The other day, I was talking about my solo nomadic lifestyle with a new friend. At one point, he asked me "Have you seen Into The Wild?". In fact, I have watched it recently - on my long plane ride back to the U.S. at the recommendation of another new friend. "Do you remember what happens at the end?".
Don't worry, I'm not going to ruin the end for you, but I knew exactly the part my new friend was talking about. The part where the main character realizes that happiness is only real when shared. I definitely remembered that part of the movie!
The philosophical question here is wether I could be happy as a solo traveler. My answer is that I need both to be happy. There have definitely been times when, while traveling with a friend, I saw or did something I was super excited about, but they weren't at all excited about that same thing, and it totally upset me. There have also been days like the ones where I walked around Amsterdam at night by myself, where I felt ecstatic at the beauty of it all.
One time, while walking through the most beautiful park in Budapest, my friend got mad at me because he wanted to talk, and I was way too distracted by the beauty and smell and magic of the park to really pay attention and listen. That was not fun. I would have been a lot more happier going to that park alone in that case.
The point is that in order to share happiness during travel, both people have to be on the same wavelength / energy level.
During my first trip to Japan, I wanted to make sure to get a fish pedicure. The friend I was traveling with wanted to go check out the electronics in Akihabara. We parted ways and I really enjoyed my fish pedicure while she enjoyed her experience.
During my last trip to Japan, another friend came to visit me who I knew for a fact would enjoy the fish pedicure. We both got one and it was amazing. I also shared my favorite vegetarian restaurant with her (she's a vegetarian), and we were both on that magical level, both happy to be together sharing these amazing moments with each other. The food there was seriously heavenly, and I honestly wouldn't have been able to handle being there with someone who couldn't appreciate it. As you can tell from my description, the sharing experience can be super transcendent and intense if both people are in the same receptive mindset to receive and enjoy the experience.
As I travel the world and experience things that make me happy, I keep them in mind for when I have a travel companion I can share them with. By experiencing it myself first and knowing my travel companion really well, I can maximize the chance that we will both be in the right mindset to really share the happiness of the experience.
And others, whom I've met on the road and have shown me around their home country have done the same thing for me. When they show me the cool stuff in their home town, I keep an open mind full of excitement and anticipation. When they show the things that they love to me, I can share their happiness and excitement.
So while I travel solo, I do make sure to make friends and meet people on the road. I don't have any plans to go to the Alaskan wilderness by myself. But currently, I am solo in a small town in Northern Washington and it's super nice. I need the solo time to regain my thoughts and refresh from all the stimulus and excitement of my usual travel, and to take a break from the intensity of being with others.
The answer for me lies in having a good balance of both solo and together time. I need the solo time to refresh, so I can be in the right mindset of openness and receptiveness to others, so we can share the transcendent happiness of the moment.