Few of us will win a MacArthur Fellowship, aka the Genius Grant – what author Junot Díaz calls a “big blast of privilege”.
But we have our own blasts of privilege. The fact that you travel, whether on the cheap or luxuriously, means that you are privileged. And, yes, travel is a blast.
I encountered Junot Díaz by chance. I went to a reading of two authors, Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and Díaz. I went for Chabon but came away thrilled by my personal discovery of Díaz. Clearly, I was late to the game. He won a Pulitzer Prize for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao in 2008 and is a 2012 MacArthur Fellow.
Díaz has a wonderful ability to describe our world with sound bites and ideas that are raw, entertaining, thought-provoking and worth sharing. With the advent of a new year, I thought I’d share three Díaz quotes (all from The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao) as spring boards for perspectives on solo travel.
How many of you came to travel solo because Plan A, a trip with a friend didn’t work out so you were left with Plan B, traveling alone? From the comments on the blog and the Solo Travel Society on Facebook, this appears to have been the case for many.
For me, this was certainly the case. The death of my husband, a change I most definitely didn’t want, changed everything. However, not all the changes were for the worse – at least, not in the long run. With his loss, I learned how strong I was. I went out and traveled alone and saw the merit of doing so. And I started this blog which was my life-saver and is now my primary work.
Perhaps you're already anticipating changes (may they not be the kind that I experienced) in the coming year that you don't want. Perhaps they will come as surprises.
In 2013, I wish for you the ability to make those changes that change everything for the positive and useful.
“But if these years have taught me anything it is this: you can never run away. Not ever. The only way out is in.”
“The only way out is in.” What a great line. What truth!
We all have things in life that are difficult to address. And while we don’t all try to run away from them we don’t always have the time or capacity to address them. In our busy lives, issues get put to the side and problems are left to be sorted another day.
When we travel solo, we don't only travel away but we have the opportunity to travel in. Without the distractions of a partner we are free to let our thoughts wander and figure things out.
In 2013, I wish for you many opportunities to travel solo, to travel far away and to have the wonderful opportunity to travel in.
“Success, after all, loves a witness, but failure can't exist without one.”
Success is easy to enjoy. Whether large or small, successes build confidence and make one feel ready to take on more.
By contrast, failures can be quite debilitating. But what a wonderful notion that failure can't exist without a witness. I think that what Díaz is trying to say here is that we are the most important witness to our own failures. If we ignore them, we won't learn from them. To take stock in failure is to give ourselves a chance to truly succeed. Hopefully, we can be gentle with ourselves when failure happens. And we can see that failure is simply a stop on the long road to success.
In 2013, I wish you opportunities to travel solo and witness your own success at doing so. I also wish you the opportunity to take any failures and put them in perspective all the while being kind to yourself .
Travel solo, have fun, grow well
This has been an oh-so-serious post. But essentially, in 2013, I wish you the joy of solo travel and the rewards that it offers:
- personal time
- personal growth
- and the opportunity to return to your life stronger and happier regardless of how you left it.
Yes, I wish you a big blast of privilege.
Below is a video of Diaz talking about writing and the MacArthur Fellowship.