I have returned from a two-week trip to a faraway country, which by time-zone is 8 hours from my home. I returned on the 3th of September. The strongest feeling I have about this trip is I am old and lonely.
This is not the first time I travel alone. But I have never expected I could be so lonely on the way.
Physically and mentally tired I am. The estimated hours of the hiking trails listed on the guidebooks were all inapplicable to me, unless upwardly adjusted by 50% to 100%. Many times I thought about aborting the hike. Many times I thought about alternative plans, including turning back. This had never happened in my previous hikes. Many times I cursed my backpack, cursed my slippery boots and cursed the stupid scree slopes. Above all I blasted: this mountain is dead straight monotonous, I could see something better with less effort. Too often I counted how many hours to go before I could return to the city.
In the past I was eager to see every recommended sights in the guidebook. How many miles I would walk and hours I would spend to find those sights just because of one provoking line in the guidebook. No more. Since quite a while ago I have been championing "I do not believe there is anything must-see" as my motto. But I have taken it further now. I sat hours on end at a fixed spot, staring at the same spot, watching light turned to darkness, and I consoled myself that by doing this I could engrave the scene in my brain, which would mean more in the rest of my life than capturing too many fleeting images in a gallop. Down at heart I also know I sat motionless for so long because I am old and tired.
The urge to talk has vanished. There were times I could converse with other travellers. But I chose to remain silent. The youngsters talked a lot and did talk enthusiastically. I admired them. I admired youth and carefree chatter. Old people speak less about their happy experience or opinion, and speak less after all, because they are afraid what they say will offend the audience, who may be jealous, disagreeing, cynical or just sensitive to find stings in all talks except platitude. Because all too often they themselves are offended for the very same reasons.