In an attempt to help me through a particularly tough situation from across the world, my mother sent me this quote:
"That which gives light must first endure burning" - Viktor E. Frankl
After a lot of time burning, to what feels close to simmering ashes, I've found and I'm continuing to find my light. I've discovered it in living in the purest of places: nowhere.
Traveling this world alone I am not simply a tourist... I am displaced, in constant motion, in an unceasing pause from my known, living in my purest known.
I am my home.
And so I've become my own light. Travel, motion and truly solo motion, can guide us to ignite our inner lights.
I've learned that as much as my journey is about me, I must share.
And so I share with you.
Means making mistakes you only know about, triumphs strangers see. No one sees. You see.
It means chatting with baristas, wash-room attendants;
full days spent talking to no one except for that little voice in your head you always push away out of fear.
It means 'selfies' in front of epic monuments that might as well be in your bed.
Or no pictures at all.
Only memories, fleeting memories, fleeting moments of bliss you have hidden away, no one else.
It means no shared laughter, or tears
when everything goes right, or wrong.
Traveling alone means learning the beauty in enjoying a sit-down meal by yourself.
The thrill and adventure of walking in circles without any notice or care.
You slowly embrace what you used to push away.
It means, being the only one who
Looks like you
Talks like you
Speaks your spoken language and learning to find the gorgeous wonder of the unspoken language of humanity.
Traveling alone entails
Glorious one-night friendships
Hideous one-conversation arch nemeses.
Eye contact can constitute an intellectually stimulating conversation;
Alone you are pushed to learn and share with whoever is there to listen.
Sometimes it's just
You become skilled at asking for help when you don't want to.
Alone means discovering all the ways to let go.
You embrace vulnerability
Take leaps of faith in yourself and others.
Judgement becomes scarce and unhelpful.
That which made you bitter or cold or unhappy is flipped upside-down.
Or right side up.
Your center of gravity is no longer where you are or where you've been or what's in your bags.
Traveling alone means
Life becomes as easy and as hard as convincing yourself to move.
When you wake up your day begins; you wait on no one.
Without others, you can get lost.
You are your only worry.
Too much control.
When all goes wrong you have to freak out to yourself.
You write Facebook statuses to the newsfeed of your mind.
And in turn, you gradually learn to filter out the garbage, complaints, negativity you let sit in your head, your heart
You hear and see that which made others turn from you,
now makes you turn from yourself.
It means being lost and lonely
It means being free and lonely.
You define and redefine lonely.
Traveling alone can mean motion, change, stasis, pause.
Too much time to think,
not enough, just enough.
In this excess time to simply be,
wander and wonder
you can begin to learn who you are not in the context of the world, but of yourself.
There comes a point where you must realize that your bags, phone, camera, jacket, belongings are not you.
You are you.
Exhilarating and terrifying.
Stuck in yourself... but also freed from all binds of others,
you are your own secret.
You find security not in what you wear, how you talk, who you talk to,
but in who you are
or will be.
You don't need to find yourself.
For, wherever you go, there you are.
Traveling alone doesn't have to be anywhere glamorous.
Just somewhere new.
Somewhere that forces you to look further,
Somewhere that unsettles
Where you can test yourself, push limits.
Somewhere where you are cut off from all your known,
where you look outside of yourself and into yourself.
Curiosity will fade into thought
And just as you feel stable,
let go and leave...on that bus, train, plane, foot and reflect on what kept you sane...
We look for stability wherever we are, familiar smells, tastes, stories, to travel alone, lonely becomes stable and sane.
Now, when you return, you relate to others, the world, yourself
with refreshed eyes.
To retreat into self is not sad, selfish, boring, vain... it's comfortable.
You gain a new capacity for selflessness, even with yourself.
For considering, judging, hurting, oneself on the road,
in the reflection of a coach bus window, in a foggy hostel mirror,
becomes less relevant than having to become friends with yourself, than learning to feel
to look, to be.
when you are truly free, you open yourself up to uncensored emotion, to scary raw you, to bliss.
When you listen you can listen purely.
You learn to be present in you first so it becomes easy to be present for others.
As much as "alone", "independence", "solo", "wanderlust", are about you...
Share yourself, your thoughts, your wisdom, your fears.
Now that you are open to yourself
Open up to others in new ways.
Share pictures, stories, words.
Insignificant fleeting glances, looks.
Moments that were once overlooked become a part of your intricate ever weaving story of self, of life.
You're not on a quest to "find" anything... you are simply you.
Changing, growing, moving, loving, challenging.
The you once defined by the people who raised you, the debts your school left you, the lovers you clung onto, is renewed.
It is difficult to shed yourself, to leave and stay left.
Trust in yourself, the one you took the journey with...you.
Finding solace in yourself but also in the ever-changing reliability of the earth to provide...
For me it's a moment with skies, the sun I've always known, the cycles in and out no matter where my bag, my head, my heart is.
The way that no matter the cultural or lingual make-up of the bus, plane, train, situation I find myself in,
I can look up and remember,
I am my home.
We are home.
And so far from alone.
Amanda Crommett is a New York City based photographer with a degree in Film & Cinema Studies and interest in everything from portrait work to album design to photojournalism. She recently committed to wanderlust and will spend most of the next year traveling the world and hopes to continue to dedicate her life to sharing the world through art. She's currently working on a long term documentary portrait project about bliss that will explore dreams, passion and ambition in young people around the world through photographic prose and poem.