12 hours in the air and during the long night I flew over Afghanistan and India. Now I am sitting in the airport in Kuala Lumpur, waiting for my connection to Penang, Malaysia.
This international travel life can be terribly lonely at times. Just now I am observing how the battery of my beloved MacBook Air is ticking against zero, I have discovered that Malaysians drive on the left hand side, and I am discussing with myself if I should find some food or not. It will be late evening before I am in my hotel in Penang. As I am engaged in these deeply meaningful activities, I pretend to be busy, happy and a man of the world. We are not lonely, are we? To be lonely is to be a looser. That is what my culture tells me.
Just now I am happy to be alone. The tiredness level is very high and I am glad I do not have to entertain someone with light talk.
I wonder if Malaysians are any wiser than people from my background? In my culture we have problems with uneasy, difficult or straightforward bad feelings. If I feel like a looser, all my energy starts covering up that fact and hiding it. If I feel confused and not sure what to do or where to go, I pretend that the opposite is the truth, and spend all my energy to pretend, pretend and pretend again.
Do not misunderstand me, please. I do not argue that we should all cry on everybody’s shoulders when we feel lost. A certain level of pretension is good. It is more for internal use. If we could reconcile ourselves with our less successful feelings and moments, life would become better for us, easier. If we could tell one another that we have those moments, more of us would relax and accept that loneliness and confusion and sometimes feeling like a looser belong to life in all its richness. And I know that I am only scratching the surface of life’s less happy moments. But the deeper the pain goes, the more true it is. If we reconcile ourselves with the fact that such pain exists, we grow stronger in our capacity to live in the middle of the pain, and again and again it dawns on us – these things go away again.
So – greetings from a lonely man in Kuala Lumpur. In three hours I will meet Jose in Penang and tomorrow I have a dinner appointment with my good friend Dr Park from Korea and I know that my feelings will be far away from this little itching loneliness I feel just now.
I put on a little smile. My Malaysian neighbors on both sides of me on the bench probably think that I had a good work session on my lap top.
And I had, hadn’t I?