I know I’ve written about the the power of connections before, but this time on my ‘own’ has only reinforced my viewpoint that the connections we make are the root of our individual personalities. Our connections fill an emptiness within us; it makes us less alone in the world then we were before we reached out and metaphysically touched someone else.
See, here’s the thing. If we couldn’t communicate, we would all be sitting on the ground, scratching out a living killing beasts and harvesting roots and grubs. With language, we’ve bypassed a barrier that exists between individual instances of consciousness. It seems to me that in hostels, the barriers that we carry with us are dropped as we are all basically lonely souls reaching out for someone else to validate us.
Over the last couple of days I’ve watched the ebb and flow of hostel life, of hierarchies and temporary friendships formed. It’s hard to describe just how easy it is to converse with someone you’ve never met before unless you’ve found yourself in a commonality, of a stranger in a strange land. It’s been my experience that when you’re backpacking, you end up meeting more people from other countries then from the country you’re visiting. That’s the addiction. It’s the lowered guard, the fact that you’re both vulnerable because you’ve left everything and everyone you’ve known to explore a new culture. When I was in Australia, I met many more English and Irish then Australian, and that theme is the same here in Europe. I’m quite chuffed about the fact that now, here in Europe, I get to talk to honest to goodness Australians, whom besides the ones I worked with, I never really met.
I’m a bit of a social butterfly. It’s one of my only strengths, but it is a strength. I feel quite at ease with strangers in general, as long as we can communicate in some form. If the language is a barrier, then I endeavour to improvise, but thankfully that hasn’t really been the situation. The beautiful part about Europe is that English has been completely embraced as a sort of ‘neutral’ language, something that no matter where you go, most everyone speaks enough to get by. I’ll be honest here, I’m lazy. The more people that speak English, the happier I’m going to be. I hate it when I come across a situation where absolutely no communication is possible, because it’s the ultimate form of helplessness. Here you are, two human beings, sharing a vast gulf of genetic and historical heritage, but because neither speak the same language, you’re absolutely incapable of communicating your individual memes to each other. For me, it’s the worst situation. I do whatever I can to avoid, and I hope that it’s not something that crops up too much in Romania.
In general, I try not to talk about people I’ve met. I guess I’m a bit of an elitist, because a long time ago I took a set of rules to heart. It was pretty simple really, but in practice it’s very hard. It goes something like thus:
Great people talk about ideas,
Regular people talk about current events,
Low people talk about other people.
I’m not going to lie, I aspire to be a great person. It takes a certain amount of ego to reach for that high point, and I’m not ashamed to try. I’ve always felt that I’ve had a surplus of ideas to communicate, assuming that there’s a willing recipient. I guess the problem is finding the right person who’s receptive. I guess that’s what I find so appealing about hostel life, there seems to be a plethora of idea people. It’s almost like a common currency – after talking about where you’ve been, where you’re going, the price of beer and other such trivialities, the only thing left is abstract thought. You realize pretty quick that you’re never going to see or hear from the people you meet again, so why not try to make the most of your temporary relationship. It is temporary, and it is disheartening. A lot of the people I meet, well I wish I could spend the rest of my life discussing trivialities and great ideas. But that’s the life, and you take the good with the bad. If you hold on too tightly, then you can never find room for new people. You see, it’s not so much the importance of the people, so much as the relationship between them. It’s very common when you’re in this state where all connections are temporary that you can find real truths, where abstract ideas that you’ve concocted are either reinforced or rejected with such certainty.
This is pretty much why I reccommend travelling to anyone who will listen; this is also why some people either love it or hate it. I feel sad for those who hate it, because they’re unable to come outside of the shell of their preconceived notions to accept the reality that is presented by those who are actually experiencing it. With our lonely little world, ther are so many opposing ideas that you’re bound to come in conflict with something you hold dearly. It is the measure of the man who can realize when they’re wrong and change their perception accordingly. Nobody is right all of the time. It’s purely a matter of making corrections along the path that is our journey through life.