Sojourn: An Art of Traveling in Solitude
We are in nothing short of an intense, traumatic time. The roads that bustled and flowed with energy and movement have ceased. Hugs, handshakes, and touch are not an option in the midst of this pandemic and we all feel the emptiness and fear that is lurking. The headlines are plagued with deception, extremities, and a push for more fear and buying into the fright that so many are feeling.
Now, this is not to say that this isn’t a serious situation, but living in fear and losing a sense of self is not the way to respond. If anything, it’s a time to reconnect with the most innate parts of yourself and discover the rebirth inside of you. It’s a time to reevaluate, refocus, and support your tribe and community.
Essentially, the word sojourn means a temporary stay or journey. When we think of sojourn, it is often related to a time that seems apart from reality and the “normal.”
While a sojourn is an "inbetween" of sorts, it is often restful, refilling and transforming. Journeying alone, whether literally or figuratively, is necessary to be in touch with yourself. The word solitude beautifully suits this idea as it means being alone with oneself, but not lonely. Being a soul mate of your own does wonders.
About a month or so ago, I did a solo trip to Chicago. Travel is not necessarily an option right now which is ironic to be writing about it, but I hope that this little glimpse into the beauty of experiencing life away from people and distractions, brings you some hope and motivation in this time of social distancing.
Chicago is one of those places I am inevitably drawn to. It's one of those places that I want to write my name in malleable concrete and make it permanent. It's the kind of place that I would upend my life here on any given day and move into the city with a backpack and a burst of wanderlust. There is magic on every street like a land of milk and honey, overflowing with art and an infinity of humanity. It's a constant dreamer, artist, life seeker state of mind there and there is nothing more healing for me to be reminded that this enchantment still exists.
When I went to Chicago, I felt detached from myself. There was this disconnected anxious itch that persisted and the need to reset was driving me further and further away from myself. I was irritable and angry in any given situation that it felt nearly impossible to go to work or focus on my studies. One inconvenience would send me spiraling and I felt completely out of control. Everything within me pushed for a hard reset and being able to take a couple days alone and sojourn into a city of magic centered me back on my axis. I owe that not only to Chicago, but to the dear heart of solitude herself beckoning me to listen to what I needed.
As I explored, I found myself in an underground art store, drooling over the supplies and the art plastered against the wall. I left my mark on paper spread out along a table with other people's art - a small collective mural.
In the midst of a small rainstorm, I wandered in to a quaint bookstore in the heart of Chicago that smelled of oak wood and the crisp air of healing. It felt like I gained pieces of myself I didn't know I had lost. In solitude and travel, we can often get in touch with those sacred parts of ourselves that seem to hide themselves.
As women, there is always so much pressure to perform and live up to societal expectations that we can lose ourselves in the midst of it. It is so very important to get away from the busyness of everything, slow down, go travel to a city or get in nature, and conjure the passion and art that lives within.
In solitude and travel, we can get in touch with those sacred parts of ourselves that often seem to hide.
Alone is a scary thought. It feels like the absence of life and light, but it is necessary. Being alone and filling up yourself is necessary to not only love yourself but the people around you. It forces you to reckon with your fears, your thoughts, dreams and goals. And god, what a healing thing it is to meet yourself where she is, and remind yourself of the magic that lies within the very center of you.
So take this time as an unexpected sojourn of solitude and when this season eases up, travel alone as much and as often as you can. Surround yourself with the beauty of earth, of humanity, of the artists and the dreamers, and life in its messy, wild self, and most importantly: remember the beauty that exists in the caverns of you.
Written and photographed by: Sveta Petty