Some people could never imagine traveling alone and spending a week apart from others.
I used to think I didn’t want to be somebody who would travel alone, but I’ve long since gotten over that. I love traveling with my friends, and I love traveling by myself. Both approaches have their advantages. I welcome friends to join me, but I won’t avoid travel just because they aren’t there.
I’m very much an introvert, and solo travel gives me the time I sometimes require to contemplate the most important challenges I’m dealing with. When I’m alone like this and truly relaxed, I can consider them fully and I can puzzle my way through them unhindered. My mind is free and rested and able to consider the possibilities and probabilities that I need to.
I can ruminate safely.
It was an ideal morning for this in the Agora, where Socrates once taught and inspired Western thought.
I tread the twisting, crumbled footpaths of the site without aim, other than taking in the glorious Temple of Hephaistos. This is reported to be the best preserved of these ancient temples, so it really is a must-see (yet we missed it last time).
This wasn’t a park 2000 years ago, though, but instead it was a bustling market and meeting place. Today, however, with the trees showing early spring buds, it was tranquil and it was liberating.
I walked the grounds, ducking beneath branches, with few other visitors around.
And I stopped for a time to sit on a dewy bench and just enjoy the morning peace.
And I thought and I reflected on how I got here – not physically (it was a plane), but personally. And it turns out this is a story, which has somehow driven this journey, that starts and ends with work and what it’s doing to me.
I have a partner at work who speaks of the “light at the end of the tunnel” and points out that it might be a train. I’ve been in a few tunnels during my train rides this trip and the truth is, when you’re in them, you have no idea how long they are. And the problem with walking toward the light is that you’re staying on the tracks where that train might be.
When it comes to work, I’ve been in the tunnel for far too long now. I’ve been told there’s light, but I’ve decided that the smart thing is to stop looking for the light. Maybe It’s time to get off the tracks and start digging.
It’s time to make my own tunnel and find my own way out.
Sitting in the Agora I considered these things, and I thought about Hephaistos. Hephaistos was the ancient god of craftsmen of all sorts. I’m not a craftsman by any means, but something in my life has to be restructured and rebuilt. I have considered my options throughout this journey, and today I resolved to craft the changes I need in my life.
I will protect myself and I will have wellness.
Leaving the Agora, I stopped to visit the remains of the Hadrian’s Library, where I felt the warming strength of the sun on my face and reveled at the grandiose structure that once stood here.
Later I would have one last meal in Athens, a simple souvlaki sandwich at the most local dive joint I could have hoped to find.
And then I headed to the airport. My flight tonight will take me to Amsterdam, and tomorrow I will return to New York. I expect I will come back to Greece again soon, however, as there is so much more to see here.
This trip has been a success. My decisions have been made and I will fix the things I need to. I know what I need to do.
At the beginning of this trip I wrote of my burnout at work. I feel better now, but don’t want to regress to where I was. Today I resolved that I won’t do so. I will dig my tunnels and build the right walls in the right places to protect myself.
I’m taking back my joy.
Thank you for reading – I love you all!