I’m an introvert. I don’t like to make a thing about it. I certainly don’t want to engage in any conversation that puts introverts and extroverts into competition with each other. I do need to understand how being an introvert impacts my life and what it tells me about how to take care of myself. And what it mostly tells me is that being around a lot of people for a long time saps my energy and I regain that energy by being alone.
So I need solitude in order to recover my energy. Aloneness isn’t something that bothers me. I can, of course be lonely from time to time but being lonely and being alone aren’t the same thing for me. Being alone is part of my self-care just like brushing my teeth or taking my meds. Fortunately for me, solo riding provides a wonderful space to find that much needed solitude in. Solo touring provides even more space for me to find my Ground of Being and it’s something that I need to do on a regular basis. A day ride recharges me and give me time to be still in my own mind but touring will burn away all the detritus of daily life until there is nothing left that is not necessary.
The first few days of a solo tour are full of anxiety for me. I’ll convince myself that I’ve left something at home. I’ll convince myself that I left my wallet behind at my last gas stop. I let myself feel this anxiety for what it is, doubt in my own abilities. If it becomes overwhelming, I let myself pull over to reassure myself that my wallet/phone/clothing is exactly where it should be. Packing lists help to alleviate some of this. I know if I check off everything on my list then I have everything.
A few days on the road that this nameless, paralyzing anxiety fades away and leaves me with a soul renewing silence. Mr Man calls it brain draino. For me, it’s a state of being perfectly in the moment with the road itself being my only concern. I realize how trivial and silly all my daily concerns are. How meaningless all my work day stress is in the grand scheme of things. The dangers and the challenges of the road become my sole focus. And that singular concentration on the now is freeing. Once you are off the road, the worries of the day don’t follow you. You’ve dealt with them already, nothing to do but get dinner and relax.
Without anyone near me to take up my physical and emotional space I feel like I can emotionally relax and spread out. Without anyone to drain my energy away I can fill myself up. I can even build up a reservoir of energy for the days and weeks after my trip.
Of course when I return to my daily life, all the stress and worries do come back. But my perspective has changed (at least for a little while). I can see clearly what is important and what is unimportant. It’s easier to let go of the silly worries and concentrate on solving the real problems of life.
This post almost didn’t happen. I had a terrible case of writers block that just wouldn’t give. I finally realized yesterday that I needed some solitude in a bad way. I needed to hibernate in my house. Mr Man obligingly left me alone for the afternoon and today I found this post finally happening. It’s been really driven home to me how long it’s been since I’ve had a solo trip…or even a solo ride. It’s been 100 degrees here but I’ve got a free afternoon coming up this Sunday. I may need to brave the heat and take myself for a long lonely ride somewhere. I need some perspective.