Once upon a time I would have said that friendship was a magical connection that was made so rarely that it should be treasured and nurtured. I had a tight inner circle as sacrosanct as that of Arthur’s knights.
My well organised life was full of lovely people and I categorised them into a bewilderingly bizarre, teetering hierarchy. ‘Friend’ was the highest accolade and few made it to those dizzying heights. There were more mundane positions which were easier to fulfill such as ‘people I know’ or ‘people I like’ and even ‘people I like to say hello to’. ‘Nice ladies in shops’ were good for a quick chat as were ‘bus stop people’. I defined my relationships and used these distinctions to keep people at a distance despite being essentially quite lonely. I rarely allowed movement as I was a fan of my slightly melancholy status quo. I left that ivory tower life and jumped headlong into the unknown.
Have I become more breezy. Is it possible that I am easy going. I doubt it. The Asperger Path will always be a challenging route . However, now that I am travelling there is no status quo for me to protect from would be friends and so my relationships do need to be scrutinised into the calcified classifications of before. This means that my use of the word friend has become more generic and as result my life feels a little less complex. I’m still awkward, clumsy and inept and I avoid some situations but I no longer bestow friendship like some coveted prize to be earned like a knight’s spurs. These days I have more friends and my relationships are governed as much by proximity as any other factor.
So if you’re in Battambang, are not a racist, like to laugh and have a reasonable level of intelligence chances are I see you as friend. It is as simple as that.
I have always been broad minded. I think far outside of boxes. I am quirky and out there. Eccentricity was something I excelled at long before I understood what fitting in could mean. I don’t think that’s what they have in mind. So perhaps I need to buy some baggy elephant print trousers and experience an authentic Asia. I could get myself some dreads even though I’m white and convert to Buddhism before returning home to take my job in corporate finance. I’m not sure that life is any better or worse than mine. Being broad minded in this context means having an understanding that life is lived differently by different people in different places. It’s tolerance and understanding mixed together with a willingness to immerse yourself in the new and the strange and learn about yourself from what you do. This widens the resources you can pull on in life.
I have always travelled. Wide eyes would stare on the double decker bus to Old Town and my ears like radio telescopes would absorb the chit chat, gossip and banter of daily public life. I watched the couples who bicker and the parents who nurture. I listened to advice given as criticism and saw love exercised as control. The private lives we lead are so very public. Now I watch travellers and they fascinate me. A diverse group of people each on a different journey. Some travel through time. Others move through space. The lucky ones journey within and travel to the landscapes of the soul and learn the truth of the human heart.
To a large extent I remain an observer. Broad minded in my views but I am not broad minded. I walk the Asperger Path. I judge and classify. I put people in boxes and label them. I am like an entomologist with drawers of specimens. I am on the bus but sometimes I don’t get off. I don’t get down into the real dirty underbelly of life. However my life is broader every day. The people that I meet are a source of fascination and delight.
There are many places I will see before I die. Like you I am traveller and like you I am unique. My list of things to do and see isn’t yours or theirs but mine. So hello and farewell my fellow traveller. We meet, we pass, we share and we move on in time, space and emotion.