Kitiara Pascoe wrote an interesting piece in The Guardian talking about some of the emotional struggles she experienced while sailing the world. In the two years that she was gone from her circle of friends and family, two people had passed away and three had been born. Along the way she missed a lot of the joys and sorrows that people share as life throws curveballs their way. On several occasions she wished more than anything to be in England with people rather than on a sunny beach halfway around the world. Ms. Pascoe is not alone in this feeling, as this seems to be a common thread in articles written by people who have spent time away from friends and family, be it for school, work, or adventure. Oddly enough, this is something I have never knowingly felt.

Is there something wrong with me?

In August of 2002 I moved to a city 4,700km west from my nearest relative in order to find myself. Five years later I moved another 7,800km westward, so far across the globe that I went east and crossed the planet’s largest ocean. Despite the vast distance I have never felt far from my family. They’re just a phone call away and, since the advent of the smartphone, richer interactions are immediately available.

During my 16 years away celebrations have been had, people have been born, people have passed away, children have grown up. At no time was there a pang in my chest and a desire to spend time with the community of family I grew up with because the geographical distance is minuscule compared to the emotional distance. I have kept myself separate for as long as I can remember. Perhaps it’s a result of my parents splitting up when I was 5. Perhaps it’s protection from the pain of loss when things inevitably come to an end. Perhaps it’s a result of autism1 reordering priorities and rendering literally lifelong relations as somehow less important than current events … which would be odd considering I am very much attached to the people in my home.

Are there things that I miss about Canada? Of course there are. There are experiences that I would very much like to enjoy from time to time. Be they attending a Canada Day celebration or enjoying a Nanaimo Bar with an overpriced cup of coffee. I do enjoy spending time with my family, too. There’s always a lot of laughter and fun when everyone’s in the same general area. But I don’t miss people. Does this make me a bald person? A bad son? A bad brother?

When reading stories about people who embark upon long journeys, I rarely see any mention regarding the absence of the people left behind. The discussion is always about the goals, the physical challenges, and the potential rewards. It’s interestijg to read about the human aspect these journeys expose, and how the traveller overcomes them.

  1. I have not been tested for this by a psychologist, but all signs point to being very much on the “highly functional” side of the spectrum based on a couple of books I’ve read with the pseudo tests built in. One of these days I’ll have to work up the nerve to go see if I am actually autistic.