There have been times when I traveled alone, for both business and pleasure, and really enjoyed it. There have been times when I have done so and hated every second. When you are lying alone on a king size bed, looking out at the rain and trying to make some kind of plan for the day, you know at that moment whether you are happy or sad about being alone. There is no ambivalence or indecision…you know. Being alone is not the only consideration. On the days I traveled alone and hated it, I knew that having the wrong person with me on that day would only make it worse. I knew at that moment who I wanted to have with me and who I did not. It is in those moments that you really understand who is important in your life…and who is not so important.
We, and by we I mean Buddhists, call moments like those “bardos”. That is when life seems just a bit less complicated. Things that you might not have been sure about tend to come just a little more into focus. What you really value becomes clear to you. You realize then, traveling is not the goal. Living life is the goal, and sometimes life (and your travels) are not complete unless you are sharing it with the right person.
Let me give you a tip. When you identify the person that should be lying next to you in that king size bed and helping plan your day, or walking down the street holding your hand, promise yourself never to do anything that jeopardizes your relationship with them. In the stress filled days of our lives it is easy to lose track of what is important. It is easy to do things that put the important relationships at risk. Don’t do it. If you do, bardos become painful. If you do, the next bardo will not only find you alone, but you will have to deal with the realization that your actions are at least partially responsible for only one side of that bed being occupied. The bottom line…choose where you want to be and who you want to be with. Pay attention to what you feel when those bardos come along, and don’t allow all the other moments of stress, uncertainty, and apathy to interfere. Remember also, traveling with the wrong person is probably worse then traveling alone.
There is still the real question to deal with…why do we sometimes feel better when we share experiences with someone else? There are a number of answers. It is for you to decide which apply to you. Human beings like to have their thoughts and feelings validated. When we see something that evokes an emotion in us…be it wonder, or fear, or joy…we want to know someone else feels the same thing. If a stranger standing next to us validates that emotion, that is something. However, it is far more fulfilling and satisfying if the person doing the validating is important to us. The more important they are to you, the more closely your feelings are aligned with them, the more enjoyment you receive from the validation. If the person standing next to you is “The One”, then sharing those experiences and emotions can be life changing. In fact, according to some studies, we choose our mates based on the similarities we have in emotional responses to life events. These similarities are the basis for the validation that follows.
Another reason we want to share experiences is that we feel we are in part giving that experience to the other person. Giving makes us feel better about ourselves.
Humans are social animals. There is some deep-seeded instinctual drive to share our lives. It is a subconscious thing that has evolved into us probably because of the safety that sharing an experience provided to us when we were still living in caves. Hard to argue with instinct.