Posted by: thebluemusicblog | September 2, 2011


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?


  1. Hello from Tampere, Finland!

    You really had a good moment, thank you for sharing it.

    Jari Juhola, former EOTN member

    • Thank you, Jari! Do we have to go all the way back to the last EOTN meeting in Rome to find our last encounter? Good to hear from you, I appreciated that!

  2. Johan Vilhelm, how excellent you have captured the feeling of loneliness when waiting in one of these – often times – huge airports!!! I have experienced it myself many times. And then I have been thinking that it is strange that you can feel such loneliness when you have so many people around you. But the remedy is, as you imply, to think of all the positive and encouraging encounters you will experience when you have reached the goal of your travel. Have a nice and fruitful stay in Malaysia! / Best greetings from Jan, your good friend in Kalmar, Sweden, who often thinks of you

    • Jan, you are a truly seasoned traveller, and I am not surprised that this resonates with you. Thank you for sharing, it is very encouraging. Tonight I would really have liked your company in this very nice hotel Bayview. I am sure I will tell more about the hotel in my next post. And what we will experience in the General Assembly of Asian and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs (APAY). I often think of you as well!

  3. Hi,

    You don’t know me and I don’t know you, but I can’t help feeling that i do. Not personally; yet maybe personally too. Maybe in the sense that a complete stranger ceases to be so when a part of them doesn’t seem strange and instead familiar. A metaphysical connection, maybe. Or maybe just a sentimental heart wanting to be recognized.

    You see, i’m lonely. Travelling has always been my passion and It’s my first time in a foreign country alone. During the day I forget the me that’s lonely or rather I deny its existence. I laugh with people I meet along the way and I treasure the moments I’ll never get back. But at night when I’m in my room alone I realize with a sigh that I’m lonely. I’m lonely enough to type “pretend not to be lonely” in the google search bar, and really that’s pretty sad. I think I won’t get over my bout of loneliness anytime soon. I can pretend; i always do. I can acknowledge and accept it but that won’t mean the

  4. (continuation)

    These moments at night will stop. But atleast i know that i’m not alone. Lonely, yes, but not the only one and strangely enough that makes me less lonely.

    So from a little less lonely stranger who’s also familiar, thank you for the post.

    • Thank you for a beautiful comment, I so much can identify with your words and sentiments. And your conclusion is my conclusion – the miracle is that we can help one another. Often in ways we do not know or recognise. But we can help one another. And those feelings, when it is darkest, all of a sudden the clouds disappear and the moon is smiling to us and we feel good. Great words! Thank you.

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