Eight of us piled into the songthaew. We sat in the back of the open taxi truck with 2 seats running down each side — 4 people facing 4. There was excitement, as well as diesel smoke in the air; we were all travellers going on an adventure to explore a cave.
We were two Australians, one Canadian, an American, a few Dutch, a Norwegian and a Swede (all under 30 except for the American and Fiona and I). And off we ventured — to the Swift Cave.
Immediately the lady from Seattle launched into telling us about her life and travels. It was a monologue that carried on for 10 minutes and I thought crikey this was going to be rough, as the journey rattling around in the tray of the truck was to take an hour.
Everybody listened very politely (the learned young are so polite these days I find). Miss Seattle then segued into politics — Donald Trump and Sarah Palin. The energy in the truck was building and you could feel the pressure growing — like an aural tension that was trying to escape. Suddenly I reached my point of splintering tranquility, looked Miss Seattle right in the eyes and said, “I think you had better stop with the American politics, you are embarrassing yourself”.
There was a precarious silent pause. Then I laughed, she laughed, everybody laughed. The energy imploded and reformed with a tremendous metaphysical sigh of relief. The camaraderie could begin. The rest of the journey was people chatting and asking questions and having fun.
It was a risk being a little rude as it could have gone either way, but without the interruption it was going to be a one way street of garrulous information for an hour — for everybody. Like shunting a train onto a different track I felt the energy needed to change. I cherish times with travellers and I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to get to know what turned out to be some lovely people from a few corners of the world.
Miss Seattle was outwardly cheerful and friendly with energy and insights to offer. But I couldn’t help but think that inside she was desperately lonely with her steady and controlled need to be heard and accepted.
Loneliness is very difficult for human beings. We are a group soul and we need contact with others — companionship. We all know that feeling of needing to be loved and accepted. A big part of that is having listeners. From time to time we need people to say that all is okay, let’s have a biscuit (cookie) and a cup of tea (coffee) and a chat. To invite us into their space to talk.
A fulfilled life is one that’s shared.
We get involved with people’s lives not only for company and support but also to let us know when we are being irritating or grating or whatever. It’s important that we listen to them. My dear partner Fiona lets me know on a regular basis and sometimes I have to ‘just shut up — or else’ (what the ‘else’ is I’m not sure).
The cave was spectacular. There was a river running through it on which we glided on a raft. A big reason for this journey was to watch the swifts returning at sunset — 50,000 of them coming home. How beautiful to see them returning. Wonderful.
Thanks to all travellers around the globe; whether outward journeys or inner journeys.