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Chapter 28: Searching to Be Found

Adana, Türkiye. May 15.

By Switching hosts in Adana l could allow a bit more privacy and space for Elayis and Edgar, the cyclists that arrived after me. Looking at their gear, it was immediately evident that these guys actually knew what they were doing. Their equipment was by no means fancy, but made an efficient, functional and well balanced package - things that couldn't be said of mine. Both had been out for half a year and more already, heading to China by Kyrgyzstan along the silk road. The two met along the way, and while I didn't quite understand in what ways their initial plans had differed, they were now close travel partners.

The old archetype, stereotype if you will, of the lone wanderer that roams the land is almost always a male figure. He has chosen a lonely existence, but his stories can be both entertaining and inspiring as his inner struggles make his tales and his songs all the more soulful. His mess becomes his message, as his suffering is of the kind that creates touching art. His free spirit lifestyle looks attractive on the outside, but deep down all know of his pain, even if it is never spoken of. Some find his struggles beautiful, attractive even. The masculine has a way of showing strength through pain, and is encouraged to endure in that pain.

In recent times, a new and quite different archetype has come to shape in the solo female traveler. She radiates strength not through pain, but through happiness. We want a positive image of a strong, independent woman that defies expectations and stereotypes, and in that a new stereotype is emerging. While the message is empowering, its simplicity creates new problems. As the name implies, the solo female traveler is alone by definition, but in her identity as a strong and independent woman she cannot feel lonely. Most importantly, she cannot wish for a man to be with her, as it destroys the image of her independence and undermines the message that a woman do not need a man to be happy.

Archetypes exist in our minds and in our stories. In my fantasies and in my writing I do enforce the first archetype, that of the wanderer, but I aim to also show its problems and at chosen points draw a line between the archetype and my character. Coming back to the cyclists that crossed my path in Adana, Elayis has built a following of people with the premise of being a solo female traveler. Not all of those followers were excited when their favourite female cyclist met someone, and was solo no longer. Ironically, what strengthens the person can weaken the profile. The strong, independent woman who tackles the world on her own has found herself a man that is supporting and loving, but suddenly she doesn't appear as strong and independent anymore. "Alone is strong" goes the saying that nobody believes in, but the modern world badly wants this to be true, to the point that it cares more for its wishes than for its women.

In this true story, that someone who was found was Edgar. These were the words i wrote to him, and I hold them true still:

"You have a big, pure heart, grand to behold and safe to be around. You have great gifts to give, and the ways in which you give them are beautiful."

I grew up reading an old Swedish kids cartoon about Bamse the bear. When he drinks his grandma's homemade honey he becomes the strongest bear in the world. His motto, and the message of the stories, is that if you are strong, you need to be equally kind. Edgar reminded me of Bamse - the strongest, and kindest, bear in the world.

Knowing the pain of loneliness, I do not wish it upon anyone, least of all folks as lovely as Elayis and Edgar. My life tells me that we solo venturers that set out to find our self, in the end, most desire to be found by another. I may be a romantic, but I take romance over romanticism any day. I wish it for them, and I wish it for me, archetypal fantasies be damned.


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