Don’t Date Someone. Travel.
By Nathan Parker
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Learn to live with less and find joy in it — in the simple pleasure of having everything you own on your back, and of knowing the daily utility of every item you carry. Learn to eat simple food and enjoy the generous hospitality of those who have so much less than you have ever known.
Understand that how much you possess has nothing to do with how well you give. Chase beauty to its lair, knowing that you will never find it, only the tracks it has left in every corner of the world.
Do all these things, but do them alone.
Learn to live for yourself, and to let others do the same, holding even those closest to you lightly, in an open hand. Let go of the belief that you can possess anyone, that you can control anyone, and find contentment in solitude.
Only then will you finally learn how to be with others without using them as a means of escape. Only then will you see how perfect strangers and old friends will surprise you, blossoming under the calm regard of one who needs nothing from them, but is interested in them just the same.
Do all of these things, but do them alone.
Choose a life that is not predicated on security and stability, and you will come to see such things as the illusions they are. Let go of plans and listen to the whispers of synchronicity, the gentle currents of coincidence.
Find the ceaseless magic of life lived in the moment, the joy and surrender of being present because there is nowhere else to hide.
Find the magic in adventure, in the sudden plot twists of life off the rails, and learn to appreciate even the most trying moments because they will make a great story someday.
Talk to strangers, see how easy it is to make friends all over the world, and how much can change simply by saying Yes to someone you’ve just met.
Do all these things, but do them alone.
Date someone when you are traveling and you’ll never really be where you are.
If they are at home, half your thoughts will always be elsewhere, with them, absently calculating time zone differences, wondering what they’re thinking and clinging to a connection attenuated across thousands of miles.
If they are with you, their presence will always be subtly molding your responses to the world, tempering your curiosity to suit their expectations, creating an adventure that is the mediocre average of both your ambitions — a compromise that is less than the sum of its parts.
Travel with someone you are dating and you become a two-headed beast, looking at itself more often than not.
You will find yourself running out of things to say, yet uneasy with breaking away to talk to strangers, your adventures consisting only of the ones that you agree on beforehand — lost in the solipsism of love.
Someday you will find someone, date someone, and perhaps it will last and perhaps it won’t, though you will have learned that the only things that last are the things that can change, so you won’t expect an unchanging forever of perfect happiness.
You will learn to stay friends with your exes, recognizing them as companions on the road for as long as it made sense, like everyone else in your life.
You will probably have lovers scattered around the globe, beds to stay in when you’re passing through, and the line between friend and lover will grow blurry.
Living in the moment, you will take risks, lean in for kisses that would have terrified you before, and sometimes you will misjudge and sometimes you will find moments of sublime intimacy with old friends and perfect strangers, discovered on an unfamiliar mountaintop, halfway around the world from anywhere you ever thought to be.
Someday you will date someone, but don’t do it just yet. There is a world out there to see, pieces of yourself out there to find, and you will not see them, you will not find them, if you are always searching for them in the eyes of another.
Nathan Parker was raised by wolves in the wasteland of West Coast academia. After 10 years at four colleges with four different majors, eventually earning two degrees, he finally realized that he wasn’t actually a wolf, so he left the wasteland to join a circus in the desert, a farm in the mountains, and the cities in the jungles. He started traveling the world, and has no intention of stopping anytime soon. If you want to keep up with him, follow his writing here.