Sabbatical flashback: This time it’s personal

I struggled over what to share next in this sabbatical flashback series of blog posts. Ultimately, I decided to go a little deeper into my experiences and my personal journal I kept during the trip. This time it’s personal.

A year ago this week I was into my second week in Prague. For new readers, this was decidedly the low point of the entire trip. For most of the second week I fell ill with food poisoning or something else that kept me down. My trips to the cheap Chinese restaurant near the hostel and bar visits came to a complete standstill as just about everything I ate that wasn’t bland disagreed with me. I spent the majority of that second week in Prague finding plain breadsticks, crackers or saltine equivalents, plain rice, and lots of water. The little I did eat still brought upon sensations internally I did not appreciate. Suffice to say I did not venture far from the hostel those days.

Nobody likes being sick. However, being sick away from everything you are familiar with amplifies everything that’s wrong with the world. Whatever is hiding beneath the surface of your exterior begins to make itself known. Emotions are raw and small triggers can set off a wave of thoughts and concerns that normally are well suppressed. I had too much time to avoid anything bubbling up.

Approaching the mid-way part of this trip, I was realizing that in spite of my strong introverted nature and appreciation of time to myself, I was not alone, but lonely. Leading up to this trip, I was increasingly doing stuff on my own, whether doing prep at work after hours organizing projects and documentation to planning lodging and locations to be in Europe, I was increasingly flying solo. Because nobody else around me was doing anything remotely similar, everything took on this feeling of an adventure that only I was called to do. (OK, it’s all kind of true.) It was like there wasn’t anybody around me I could relate to about this trip – and seemingly many facets of my life. Like I said, being sick amplified a lot. I told myself I’d make changes upon returning to the US about spending more quality, intentional time with people. But that in itself doesn’t automatically fix how I feel.

I do believe there are phases in life that where we must go will be a solo journey and it will feel lonely. Sometimes I think I’m still in that phase and journey that is very much mine. Hopefully the end of this specific journey will yield new insights and relationships with people who I can travel with.

  • Thanks for sharing this, Greg. I can totally relate to being sick and having that amplify everything wrong in the world–that was a great way of wording it.

  • Ruth Goring

    I have had that experience too. In some ways the sickness distorts your feelings about your life, but in other ways it just magnifies any unease that’s there. Such moments can become powerful turning points! I hope you find those traveling companions soon.