There is a strange purity to the relationships found while traveling. With all social niceties, codependencies, and confusions of intention removed, what remains is an innocence of companionship and shared experience that rarely forms in the violent pragmatism of day-to-day living. No future promises are offered – no fear of loss, disappointment, or regret clouds the present moment – nothing is given except from a space of radical, clarifying freedom.
The friends and family members we ask to bear witness to our project of self are stained with the guilt of our own narcissism and greed for the gaze of the other. Sojourners, by contrast, can only share their company and energy in the way of a stranger’s help on the road, the unconscious attention and affection of a child, or the mysterious grace of the Tao – a genuine gift with no expectation of compensation.
To what extent other relations can learn from these lightened encounters will take a lifetime to tease out. For now, though, I will enjoy the sense of play inspired by friends newly found and soon returned.